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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!

CategoriesSteel kitchens
  1. 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.

  2. Scott says:

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

  3. 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?”

  4. 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.

  5. 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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