S.L Allen’s Flexible Flyer was America’s best known sled. Samuel Allen patented it in 1889.
1935 Flexible Flyer Airline Racer Sled
with Super Steering
Made by S.L Allen, Philadelphie, Pa
Samuel Leeds Allen (1841-1918) was a man of diverse talents. Credited with more than 300 patents, his interests ran the gamut from astronomy to farming to winter sports. In 1868, perhaps buoyed by winning his first two patents (for the No. 1 and No. 2 Planet Jr. seed drills), Allen launched his own company, S.L. Allen & Co., Philadelphia. He is said to have built a fertilizer drill by riveting two washbasins together rim to rim and adding a wooden tire and handles. An amateur stargazer, he noticed the device’s resemblance to the planet Saturn and called his invention the ‘Planet Drill.’ When he later created a smaller, seed-dropping version of the drill, he named it ‘Planet Jr.’ Allen was a clever inventor and astute businessman. In just 13 years his company became a leader in farm and garden implements here and abroad. The Planet Jr. line was displayed at the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 and the 1889 International Exposition in Paris.
A progressive entrepreneur, Allen was among the first American industrialists to offer disability and retirement plans to his workforce. A major expansion of the company’s Penn Junction plant in North Philadelphia in 1913 modernized mechanical and power systems. The updated plant also included facilities for worker use, such as a meeting hall, dining hall and a dispensary staffed by a full-time nurse.
Samuel Allen was issued a patent for the Flexible Flyer sled on August 13, 1889. His company already manufactured a wide range of agricultural machinery, including the fertilizer drill, seed drill, potato digger, cultivator, furrower, pulverizer, grass edger and numerous other farm implements. But to diversify his product line and provide work to his employees during the winter, he wanted a new product that could be sold during the winter.
At first, the sleds did not sell well. But he soon offered them to department stores, and sales took off. In 1915, around 120,000 flexible fliers were sold, with almost 2,000 flexible flyers were sold in one day.
UNDERNEATH THE FLEXIBLE FLYER
c1912 FLEXIBLE FLYER CATALOGUE
1935 S.L ALLEN FLEXY RACER
Flexible Flyer catalogue illustrations from – http://www.sledhill.com/history.htm
S.L Allen factory photo please visit – http://hiddencityphila.org/2016/02/flexible-flyer-factory-glides-into-obscurity/