William H. Willennar and A. L. Murray of Auburn, Indiana, USA, formed the Double Fabric Tire Company in 1910. The company originally made inner soles and tyre patches and later expanded their products to include car tyres and inner tubes. A successful business, they outgrew their original factory and expanded to a new site, still in Auburn.
The company was badly affected, in 1913, when a fire destroyed the entire block surrounding their factory. The company lost all of its machinery and raw materials, but they were able to rebuild due to having good insurance. A new facility, some 184,000 square feet in size, was built in West Auburn. During the 1920s, the company was re-named the Auburn Rubber Company, and in 1924 William Willennar retired, selling his interests to Mr. Murray.
Auburn Rubber Company, circa 1930-1940
Auburn Rubber Company, 1938
During the 1930 to 1950 period, David Sellew (A.L. Murray's nephew) was President of the company and is considered a key proponent of the move to toy production. Following Mr Murray's visit to Europe in 1935, a pattern maker was hired to make a mold of a souvenir Palace Guard from which a batch of rubber guards were produced and shown to toy buyers. When the orders came in they decided to add Baseball and Football figures to the range.
Auburn Rubber Company, Men working n the Mixing Department, 1938
In 1936 Auburn Rubber company produced its first rubber toy vehicle. This model was of a Cord sedan and had a lot of detail cast into the product. This was followed by a 1935 Ford which also was well detailed. The line continued until World Was II halted production of toys. However, between 1936 and 1942, the company expanded its line of rubber vehicles to include trucks, tractors, aeroplanes, ships, motorcycles, and fire appliances. During WWII the company focused on the defense effort, producing rubber soles, gaskets and other items. During this latter period the company experimented with making toys from non-essential materials, but nothing proved successful. After the War there was an immediate demand for toys that could not be met, so as an interim measure, the company bought a factory in Connellsville, PA., and during the late 1940s all toys were produced there while non-toy items were produced in Auburn. By 1950 manufacturing capacity had been added to the Auburn facility and toy production resumed there.
Auburn Rubber Company, Product Display, circa 1941-1950
Auburn Rubber comapny, ARCOR Display, 1941
The Auburn Rubber Company moved into plastic injection moulding in 1952 and decided to phase out rubber toys in favour of the new material, a rubber-like vinyl. These vinyl toys were introduced in the 1953 catalogue and by 1955 almost all rubber toys had been replaced by their vinyl equivalents. The 1956 catalogue had no rubber toys listed.
In 1960 the toy division of Auburn Rubber Company was purchased by the city of Deming, New Mexico, which needed new industries and had a surplus of low cost labour. Although this move saw 200 of Auburn's work force lose their jobs, this was offset by the Cooper Tire and Rubber Company's purchase of the old Auburn plant. The Deming operation lasted only a few years and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1969.
Between 1936 and 1942 Auburn used a marking underneath the toy which read:
Auburn Rubber Corp,
Toys manufactured during the post-war period using the old dies, were marked in the same way as above.
From 1937 to 1942 and then until 1948 they used:
AUB-RUBR Auburn, Ind.
Made in U.S.A.
For a short time (1948 to 1951) they are believed to have used: ARCOR SAFE PLAY TOYS
Between 1952 and 1953, they used: AUBURN TRADE MARK REG Auburn, Ind.
In the case of some vinyl toys, they simply used: Made in U.S.A. with the reference number appearing on the number plate of the vehicle.
|Information on this page was sourced from the internet (via Google searches) such as enacademic.com, planetdiecast.com, oocities.org, etc., several of whom credit Dave Leopard's "Rubber Toy Vehicles" published in 2003.
Images courtesy of the William H. Willennar Genealogy Center, a service of Eckhart Public Library.