St. Charles kitchens toy truck — made by The Ertl Company

st-charles-kitchen-2The sheer ridiculousness of my latest acquisition for *the Retro Renovation museum* is amusing me to no end. Yes: This vintage St. Charles kitchens model toy truck. I will guestimate, from the graphics, that it is from the mid-80s.

st-charles-kitchen-1I spotted it on ebay and snapped it up, tout suit.

st-charles-kitchen-3The truck looks to be all steel — like the cabinets, I am sure. The wheels turn… the back doors open… the back part hooks onto the front part. It’s all very fancy.

st-charles-kitchen-1-2It was made in the USA by the Ertl Company — a fascinating company in business since 1945 — but which I knew nothing about until I went to look just now. From the Ertl Co.’s history page:

Fred Ertl Sr. started making toy tractors in the furnace of his home, in 1945. He was a journeyman molder at a Dubuque firm that was temporarily idled by a strike. With a wife and five sons to support, he started taking defective aluminum aircraft pistons and melting them down. He poured this aluminum into sand molds, and started making toy tractors.

By 1946, the basement wasn’t big enough, so the business moved to a 1,040 square foot building in Dubuque.

By 1947 Ertl was incorporated and moved into a larger 11,000 square foot building. Mr. Ertl met with people at Deere & Company and was able to get approval to produce toy tractors with the John Deere name. The first John Deere toy tractor produced was a Model “A”.

In 1959, Ertl built a larger facility in Dyersville, IA and moved all production to that facility. The Ertl Company was acquired by Victor Comptometer Corporation in 1967 which was subsequently purchase by Kidde, Inc. in 1977.

By 1980, Ertl was producing close to one million die-cast tractor items per year. In 1982, Ertl’s line consisted of over 60 different John Deere items alone.

In the late 1990’s both Racing Champions and Ertl produced replicas of the John Deere racing cars as driven by Chad Little; Racing Champions and Ertl merged forces in 1999.

In the last 20 years, Ertl—now RC2—has produced over 58 million die-cast tractors and implements to delight kids and collectors throughout the world.

Heck to the yeah! We had little John Deere tractors at my house growing up, for sure! So fun to know this history!

st-charles-kitchen-4Surely, this must have been made for retailers to display?

st-charles-kitchen-5DH saw this sitting in my office. He loved it and wants to display it in the kitchen. This is the most excited I’ve seen him about an addition to my vintage hoard treasure chest in ages!


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  1. Rick says

    So fitting for you (& your kitchen). As the saying was, back in the late ’60s/70s, “Keep on trucking!”. Attributed to R.Crumb, if I recall.

  2. lynda davis says

    I agree it will look perfect in your kitchen. I think this is in the “extremely lucky find” category. Love it.

  3. virginia says

    Really handsome and collectible toy truck. I’d have scooped it up too. Old truck and tractors are great accent pieces just about anywhere an this one has some great lines and cool graphics. It had me at Fashion Kitchens!

  4. Jay says

    Oh Pam! Very nice but you realize now you have stepped into another realm – toy truck collecting albeit this one appeals to you because of the vintage/retro crossover with the St. Charles logo. You and your husband have found common ground. Ertl makes a great product. Many corporations commission toy replicas or special commemorative pieces for prizes/give aways etc. There are all types of meets and swaps for these trucks and cars. Great find!

  5. nancy says

    Love this! I’m betting (as an ex-manufacturer’s rep for commercial furnishings) that reps gave these out at the holidays to their best dealer salespersons and that they were probably hoarded in their offices or passed along to their children. I’d bet they were highly sought after.

  6. Diane in CO says

    LOL at Mr. Pam! My DH would be the same way – still loves the old matchbox cars, now shared with grandchildren… It’s a very cool little truck and I vote for displaying it in your kitchen.

    I usually set small vintage toys under the Christmas tree, esp. when there are few packages. Another possibility. Love it!

  7. Kelly Wittenauer says

    Way cool find! Yes, it will look great in your kitchen. Maybe these were given to kids whose parents bought large orders of cabinets?

  8. Joe Felice says

    Never saw this particular truck, but in the ’50s & ’60s, such toy trucks were popular among young boys. In ’59-’60, there was a Texaco tanker that was extremely sought after. I got one for Christmas. (I remember my parents had to get on a waiting list for one!) But, as with all toys, I “grew out” of it, or just got tired of it, and it went away. Don’t remember exactly how, when or where. I sure do wish I had that truck today. Besides probably being worth some money, it would bring back wonderful memories of military housing on Scott AFB. Firetrucks were also popular. And, in the ’60s, Sinclair gave away green rubber Dinos with a fill-up, and I wish I still had one of those. They were probably 6-8″ tall. Might anyone know if and where one of these gems might be found?

  9. Elizabeth says

    My 1953 original yellow and brown bathroom shower floor needs a new shower pan- can I use a dremel to remove grout, take out tile- replace leaking pan with plastic and re- use original tile?

  10. Elizabeth says

    Please advise retro- Reno family regarding yellow brown shower, thanks for any and or all feedback. The work is to start after Christmas so I think I have time to gently demo. Not worried about floor of shower so much as wall- didnt make it to Jersey for World of Tile close out.

  11. Melanie says

    When I saw your truck, I thought, that’s just like my brother’s truck only with a different paint job! My brother got a Sears truck for Christmas in the early 80’s and still has it. It’s that kind of light blue turquoisy color that Sears used back then and has the old style Sears logo on the side. We used to fill up the trailer with all kinds of toys and haul them across the living room to unload them. Ah Memories Thanks for sharing your find!

  12. Mary Elizabeth says

    Well, heck yeah, put it in the kitchen and don’t let any visiting wee bits play with it. Now here’s something I don’t admit to many people. I am so old that I remember those trucks driving around town delivering kitchens for new construction or renovation. And a salesperson pitched my parents with the little model set. The bottom line was too expensive for them (Dad called it the Cadillac of kitchens). Apparently, they wouldn’t just sell the homeowner the cabinets for do-it-yourself. They ended up redoing their kitchen themselves, though, using cabinets from Sears.

  13. Scott says

    For the 80s I’m duly impressed St. Charles hadn’t screwed up their logo into something more contemporary/generic.

  14. JKM says

    We were on the annual Dallas American Institute of Architects home tour a few weeks ago and one home was a beautiful 1957 architecturally designed contemporary that had been taken down to the studs and remodeled – not a pure restoration but updated with modern finishes sympathetic to the home’s original style – and it was lovely – but…

    The owners had “before & after” pictures on display that showed what the home looked like before the remodeling and the kitchen, originally hidden from view and designed for household help, was wall-to-wall metal cabinetry. I don’t know if it was St Charles but, knowing how expensive the home was when new (and now!), I had no doubt. The new kitchen was gorgeous but all I could think of was, “What happened to the old cabinets?”

  15. Joe Felice says

    Don’t remember this one, but I did have a red Texaco tanker in 1960, which I wish I’d kept. Those were pretty iconic. All the boys had one, while the girls were getting their Barbie dolls. Oh, what a time! Living in base housing at Scott AFB.

  16. Marty says

    In the 80s-90s the local airport (Rochester NY) used to have a display of 1 or 2 dozen trucks like this, each with the logo of a local company. Maybe yours was created as a similar type of promotion.

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