Albert Frederick Schoenhut


Patricia Anne Simpson


Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt


Albert Schoenhut (born February 5, 1849 in Göppingen, Württemberg; died February 3, 1912 in Philadelphia, PA) began making toy pianos as a youth in Württemberg. In 1866, he immigrated to the United States to take up work at John Wanamaker’s Philadelphia department store, where he was responsible for repairing the glass sounding pieces in toy pianos imported from Germany. In 1872, he set out on his own and founded the Schoenhut Piano Company. The Philadelphia-based toy firm, which later became known as the A. Schoenhut Company, was incorporated in 1897. In its early years, the company focused on the manufacture of toy pianos and other musical instruments, quickly establishing a reputation for quality that was largely based on German handicraft traditions. Over time, the company expanded and began manufacturing other products, such as the Humpty Dumpty Circus, which was introduced around the turn of the century. In addition to the circus, the company also began producing dolls, games, play sets, and a variety of figures, all of which enjoyed immense popularity. In the process, the A. Schoenhut Company became the largest toy manufacturer in America. Schoenhut himself became known as the “King of Toy Makers” and the “Santa Claus of Kensington.”[1] Despite the air of legend that surrounded him, Schoenhut always kept a careful eye on his business, which continued to grow through his emphasis on innovation, his pursuit of transatlantic markets, and his implementation of broad advertising strategies. By the time that Albert Schoenhut died in 1912, the “House of Schoenhut” included a plant and offices in Philadelphia, a sales office in New York, and a thriving catalogue business. He left the business to his six sons, who led and grew the company until 1935.[2] Though the company has gone through numerous incarnations and changes in ownership since then, it still exists today as Schoenhut Toy Piano



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