Betal of London, UK

Betal Toys are named after the factory in which they were originally manufactured by J & H Glasman Limited.

According to Geni, Marks Mordechai Glasman (also known as Marcus), his wife Kate Gittel Glasman, and sons Joseph (born circa 1888) and Hyman (born 1 Sept. 1894) arrived in England circa 1902 from Ukraine via Holland.

Sources on the internet[1] indicate 1921 as the earliest date the Glasman brothers appear as toy makers. A 1921 London street directory[2] shows Joseph Glasman, toy dealer, in Salmon Lane, Limehouse, and Joseph & Hyman Glasman, toy makers, at 644 Commercial Road east, Limehouse[3].

The name Betal Works, chosen by Joseph Glasman, appears in 1938, with the move to Plaistow Road, Plaistow E15. This was the address until 1973; the last address was 10 Burford Road, Stratford. It has been suggested by Robert Newson that "Betal" represents "Beat All".[4]

J & H Glasman Ltd (of 40 East India Dock Road, Limehouse, London) exhibited at the British Industries Fair in 1929[5], "1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Conductor Sets, Scout Sets, Indian Sets, Children's Tool and Fretwork Outfits, Xmas Stockings, Lucky Snowball and Snowmen, Toy Shops, etc., and Indoor Games. (Stand No. C.51)".

At the 1947 British Industries Fair, J & H Glasman (of Betal Works, Plaistow Road, London) exhibited again, "Manufacturers of Carpenters Tool Sets; Metal Toys Mechanical and Non-Mechanical; Carded and Boxed Tool Sets; Conductor Sets; Cowboy Sets; A large Variety of Outdoor and Indoor Games; Forts, Table Tennis, Needlework and Dressmaking Sets. Trains on lines. A large range of Kindergarten Games and Toys. (Toys and Games Section - Olympia, 3rd Floor, Stand No. K.2427)".

Other Betal products can be found through searching the internet. My interest lies in the tinplate vehicles and diecast items especially the diecast cars. The J & H Glasman Ltd. advert from the 1950 British Industries Fair catalogue shows a number of different items including a tea set, railway items and diecast vehicles.

In about 1953[1], Joseph Glasman bought out his brother Hyman. However, Joseph died in 1954 and Hyman briefly returned to help organise the sale of parts of the business. Eventually the company was inherited by all four of Joseph Glasman’s children. Coleman Glasman subsequently bought out the shares of each of his three siblings. Around 1982, Coleman became acutely ill; his son Joe had just left college, and for several months he ran the business until his father returned. By this time, however, J & H Glasman Ltd was a small enterprise which subcontracted manufacture, assembly and distribution of a small range of plastic toys (such as the children's tea sets), but had no employees itself, despite being still housed in the Burford Road warehouse. Coleman Glasman’s brother Max used the premises to create his own small line in children's fancy-dress outfits (policemen, bus-conductors, etc.), but he was not, at that time, a partner in the business. Coleman returned to work, but his health was fading, cheap imported toys from east Asia provided strong competition in the market, and so Coleman closed the business before the decade was over.

Max Glasman has provided information[1] about how Betal toys were sold in the early days and has indicated that in the 1930s they employed 'travellers’, or representatives who traveled throughout the British Isles. They are also known to have been exhibiting in the British Industries Fair and possibly other Toy Fairs. In later years Glasman's did not sell to retail customers but did sell direct to chain stores, wholesalers, etc.

[4] (page 10)