In 1945 Brdr. Petersen Toys (Petersen Brothers Toys) started producing of metal toys in Fredericia, Denmark. The company was started by three brothers: Svend Åge, Thorkild, and Christian Petersen. Svend Åge had worked as a metal worker for Voss and had experimented with making various kinds of toys. One of these toys was a relatively primitive car model - a DKW passenger car. He sold the car to a Mrs. Holm at the local toy store called 1000 Tings, on Gothersgade, in Fredericia, where it was sold for 2 Danish Kroner. The car was very popular and this laid the foundation for starting his own business. The company should not be confused with Danish furniture maker Brdr. Petersen which was established in 1973.
The other two of his brothers, who worked in Copenhagen, moved back to Fredericia. The three sold two motorcycles and a motor boat to provide the necessary start-up capital. In the autumn of 1946 they moved to larger premises at Kirkestræde 16, and production of an improved DKW car was commenced. It is thought around 70,000 were eventually sent to market.
The brothers purchased three injection moulding machines and tools, and a new model was launched with the DKW model being dropped from production. The new model was a Ford V8 Coupe and it became an even bigger success than the DKW. So much so, that they switched all production capability to this model and only produced the Ford V8 for the next year. The Ford V8 became B. P.’s most popular model - in that first year they made 3000 a week and the total production over the years is thought to have been close to 400,000. The car was sold across most of Denmark for 3.75 Danish Kroner.
Bidr. Petersen Ford V8
The Ford V8 was manufactured in many colours, with red being the most common. Apparently the company had a unique way to find the most popular colour for their toys - the neighborhood children were invited to the factory on occasion, were given ice cream, and then allowed to take the car they liked best home with them. In general, it was the red toys that were preferred, so the factory produced red models.
As the company learned more about diecasting and improved its processes, new items were being sent to market every six months. The process for developing a new model took some time. First, a basic wooden prototype was designed and then one in clay. After the prototype model reached its final design, tools and moulds were ordered and it could easily be six to seven months before they were ready to produce the new item.
Today, there is no overall list of the items B.P. made, but it is thought between 12-15 items were produced (however, see list at end of article). Each model was produced in large numbers and the finish was excellent with the models almost matching the quality of Tekno and Vilmer’s early production, although B.P. did not take aspect ratio as seriously meaning the models did not have a consistent scale being between 1:30 and 1:50 scale.
The toys were sold in colorful boxes produced by a local Fredericia company called ALPAP. The name Brdr. Petersen, or B.P., came to the notice of the B.P oil company, which initiated an agreement with the brothers. Svend Åge Petersen went to Copenhagen (København in Danish) and made an agreement with BP Oil, for the company to subsidise advertising on their packaging. The idea was so good that Svend Åge also contacted the Shell oil company and made an agreement with them so that Shell paid for the transfers on the tanker trucks, fuel bowseers (pumps), and fuel/gas bottles. Soon the toy shops nationwide had cars bearing the oil companies' brands, BP Benzin and Shell. It is not clear if Brdr. Petersen received money from B.P Oil or Shell for advertising or whether "payment" was via the supply of decals that were used on the toys.
In addition to the production of the V8s, Brdr. Petersen produced mopeds and motorcycles. The range included an N.S.U. Quickly moped, as well as motorcycles by Nimbus and Ariel, either as a sole motorbike or with either a side-car or a small delivery sidecar, similar to the common motorcycle and carrier used to transport small loads at the time.
Brdr. Petersen are also remembered for their agricultural toys: a Massey Harris tractor with a number of implements that could be connected to the tractor. Among these tools are a two-wheeled trailer, fertilizer spreader, plow, harrow, seed drill, and reaper.
However the company did not restrict itself solely to cars, trucks, and tractor models. A number of aeroplanes and at least one helicopter were produced to special order. One item was a fantasy design inspired by the comic book Jens Lyn (Flash Gordon) that was popular at the time. Brdr. Petersen also received orders for 10,000 metal doll heads in two sizes for Algrema in North Jutland, but it is not known how many were actually produced. The brand B.P. does not appear on the dolls heads or on some aircraft. The company also tried to launch a puzzle game, but it failed for some reason.
By the end of the 1950s, the production of toys ended. A total of 700,000 toys had been sold and delivered to the Danish toy market. Brdr. Petersen then changed its production focus to concentrate on other, more profitable tasks as the toy market had become increasingly difficult due to competition from the larger companies such as Tekno and Vilmer.
The company moved to new premises in Dahl Rasmussen’s Breeding Farm at 6 Julivej 5 in Fredericia, where they produced fuel tanks as a subcontractor for Diesella, a moped manufacturer in Kolding, Denmark. Initially, flat tanks were mounted to the luggage carrier, but in later production, a more modern oval tank was used on the moped. Brdr. Petersen was given an order for 10,000 tanks at 25 Danish Kroner each. Their work was so good that they became Diesella’s main supplier of fuel tanks.
Brdr. Petersen expanded its workforce and also made tanks for S.C.O. and other Danish moped factories until the end of the 1960s, when the moped era was finishing. The company could no longer find new markets for its services and Christian and Svend Åge stopped working at the company around 1965, when they both got jobs at the Carl M. Cohr Sølvvarefabrik (silverware factory). All the production equipment was eventually sold to the Poul Christensen metal foundry, who for some years continued production in West Funen (a Danish island, east of Fredericia).
|List of Known Brdr. Petersen Products|
• Ford V8 Passenger car
• Truck (well side), semi-trailer (well side), and semi-trailer (well side) with wooden gas bottles
• Tank truck and semi-trailer, both with Shell or BP logo
• Petrol bowsers
• Flash Gordon space craft
• Metal figures: Freedom fighters, Bernard Montgomery (Monty), and King Christian the 10th (Danish monarch from 1912-1947)
• Open Wheel Race Car
• Toy iron
• Doll heads
• Nimbus motorcycle (only), with sidecar, or with flat sidecar
• Ariel motorcycle (only), with sidecar, or with flat sidecar
• NSU Quickly moped
• Massey Harris Tractor
• Tractor accessories: Reaper-Binder, Disc Harrow, Wagon, Plow, Seed Drill, Fertilizer Spreader
• Wooden fuel station
|Source material for this article was gleaned from various internet searches, internet forums, MAR Online, and Edward Force's book "Classic Miniature Vehicles of Northern Europe", published by Schiffer Publishing [ISBN 0-7643-1788-1] and others.|