People planning to buy a piece of equipment today can use the web to take a virtual test drive or to see it in action. One hundred years ago, the travelling sales forces of America’s equipment manufacturers enlivened sales talks with finely made, fully-functional scale models.
DFW Elite Toy Museum owns a variety of these sales demonstration models, including a model of a J.D. Adams & Co Road King road grader that was appraised on Antique Road Show in 2005. This model was the first to use tilted wheel technology to level roads cut into hillsides.
“Salesman’s samples were a key part of persuasive demonstrations and getting the order in 19th century and early 20th century America,” said DFW Elite Toy Museum curator Rodney Ross. “Seeing a working scale model must have made it easier for road departments of cities and towns to place orders for a Road King when tilted wheel road graders were brand new,” said Ross.
The museum has many other salesman samples in the exhibition including a 1940s folding attic ladder. “Imagine trying to explain how a folding attic ladder works to a homeowner who has never seen one,” said Ross. Another highlight of the salesman sample exhibit is the working model of an Ottawa Saw Mill.
The United States Patent Office now uses drawings to evaluate patents, but in the 19th and early 20th century, working models of the invention were part of the process. The exhibit includes several unique patent models.
“Every one of these patent models represents someone’s dream for a successful business,” said Ross. “The museum’s collection includes patent models of horse collars, window blinds, porcelain sign holders, and even a barber’s chair.”
Toy Museum at 5940 Eden in Fort Worth. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with weekend hours by appointment. For more information, visit www.DFWEliteToyMuseum.com.