The Horseman Doll Factory
The 1940s and early 1950s was a successful time for the Horseman Doll Company. The progress in their three-story factory complex at the corner of Adeline Street and Chestnut Avenue in Trenton, New Jersey was racing to the tune of producing about one million and a half dolls per year. As many as 12,000 dolls per day were rolling out from their factory in the peak production months of August and September. The size of these dolls was 12 to 26 inches. The company employed full and part time employees. The Horseman Doll Company was a bit different from other toymakers as well. They made everything in one spot, the dolls, the clothing outfits and even the boxes the dolls came in were made at the Horseman Doll Company.
The company had a research lab where technicians worked to perfect the vinyl compounds. About 300 women operated sewing machines, working on doll dresses and coats, while another team of men with electric blades were cutting out the pieces of fabric that were 18 thicknesses of cloth at a time. This amounted to 18 doll dresses or outfits per cut. Imagine the buzz of those sewing machines barely able to keep up with materials being sent to their work stations. This team of employees worked well and hard under a union. They made high quality dolls and good money. However, for management, this was a bit of a flaw as most other doll companies had manufacturing sites in New York City and they paid their workers much less.
Financial trouble again haunted the Horsman Doll Company in early 1953. They announced closure of the plant. Of course, union and workers announced concessions, however things moved on. The basic problem was “labor costs,” which was never actually solved. The firm was purchased by Botany Mills Inc., in 1957, however, its management remained much unchanged.