Before the Radio Flyer, the was the Studebaker Junior Wagon
From the Worthologist Archives comes a relatively rare estate find: a Studebaker Junior Wagon.
Vintage car enthusiasts are likely familiar with Studebaker automobiles; they were manufactured form 1902 to1966. Studebaker began as a blacksmith shop in Indiana in 1852, and when the Civil War broke out the Studebaker brothers became a major vendor of supply wagons to the Union Army. Studebaker continued to make wagons and carriages until the early 20th century, when the company began to produce automobiles.
This Studebaker Junior Wagon, in need of restoration with chipped, peeling and worn paint some age cracks in the wood, is still a relatively rare find and worth $500 to $600.
Studebaker Junior Wagons were promotional items; they were carried by retail Studebaker dealerships. Originally intended to promote Studebaker farm wagons, the Junior became so popular that it continued to be sold at Studebaker car dealerships even after Studebaker stopped making farm wagons. The wagons were built for children, and were usually pulled by a goat, large dog, big brother or Dad.
The first Studebaker Junior wagons were built by Studebaker, but the wagons were in such demand that production was taken over by Indiana’s South Bend Toy Company. With increased production, distribution became nationwide when the wagons were offered through the Sears, Roebuck catalog and toy retailers. The wagon typically sold for $9 to $12. Early ads for the product featured President Teddy Roosevelt’s son Quentin.
A 1924 Sear Roebucks ad featuring the “Sturdy Studebaker Farm Wagon.”
For just $10, the Studebaker Junior would make a great “Christmas Morning Surprise!”
Collectors claim that the earliest of the wagon models (those made by Studebaker) had the word “Miniature” on the side. It’s difficult to determine an exact date of manufacture for any of these wagons, because they never had serial numbers. Certainly, the wagon was being manufactured before 1902, because it was advertised nationally at that time (according to dealers and collectors) with the designation “Studebaker Junior.” I have personally seen ads for the Studebaker Junior in Country Life in America magazine Vol. 9 p. 352 dated January, 1906, and in the Sears Roebuck 1924 catalog. Production of the wagon ceased with the onset of the Second World War.
Reproductions of Studebaker Junior wagons are available at cottagecraftworks.com for $763 plus shipping. Assembly and painting are required. Assembled and finished wagons retail for about $1,595.
Sale prices of genuine Studebaker Juniors vary widely: a $6,900 sale by Mapes Auction, and a $3,335 sale by Cowan’s Auction pre-date the 2008 drop in antiques values. More recently, a price of $1,000 was achieved on LiveAuctioneers and a price of $850 was reached on iCollector. In all of the above auctions, the wagons were in good condition.
If you didn’t have a goat to pull your Studebaker Junior Wagon, just hook up good ol’ Dad.
The estate find recorded in our Worthologist Archives was in fair condition, and sold at auction for $550. The paint on the subject wagon was chipped, peeling and worn in many places, and the wood showed age cracks. The wagon was in need of restoration.
On the Worthologist rarity scale (1-5; 1= common, 5 = extremely rare) the subject wagon was rated a 4. An original Studebaker Junior Wagon in good condition will retail for about $1,200, unless it is marked “Miniature” on the side (a Studebaker-built wagon), in which case it would retail for up to $3,000. At auction, a South Bend Toy wagon could bring as much as $850 in good condition.
Wayne Jordan is a Virginia-licensed auctioneer, Certified Personal Property Appraiser and Accredited Business Broker. He has held the professional designations of Certified Estate Specialist; Accredited Auctioneer of Real Estate; Certified Auction Specialist, Residential Real Estate and Accredited Business Broker. He also has held state licenses in Real Estate and Insurance. Wayne is a regular columnist for Antique Trader Magazine, a WorthPoint Worthologist (appraiser) and the author of two books. For more info, visit Wayne Jordan Auctions or Resale Retailing with Wayne Jordan.
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