Fire Chief pedal cars had been popular for some time before they were added to the American National velocipede tricycle range.
Children’s tricycles were advertised by a variety of catalogue companies and department stores. Department stores did not usually mention the manufacturer, and often those advertised were cheap copies of those made by the leading riding toy makers. American National was a top supplier, and their tricycles were very well made. There are more surviving Fire Chiefs from this company than any other, so I assume they had the biggest production. Various accessories were marketed to cash in on the popularity of Fire Chief pedal cars and tricycles, including diffeest styles of bell. The example fitted to this Fire Chief rings as it is pedalled, but can also be activated by pulling a wire which would be attached to the top of the bell.
1930s American National ‘Fire Chief’ Tricycle
Model No 82N763
Front Wheel 24″
Rear Wheel 15.5″
The rarest aspect of this Fire Chief tricycle is not actually its model. But the fact that it is the largest size children’s tricycle manufactured after World War One, having a 24″ front wheel. As you can see from the catalogue extract below, a tricycle with a 24″ wheel was designated ‘Model No 82N763’ and its price was $11.55 compared with $8.70 for the smallest on offer (with 12″ front wheel). No doubt the higher price meant that fewer of the largest model were sold. But also the fact that by the time a child was old enough to ride the biggest tricycle, most would have upgraded to a bicycle.
The accessory Fire Chief Jr Siren was made for Fire Chief pedal cars as well as tricycles, and the firemen’s helmet was an advertising gimmick sold by Texaco.
The tricycle is in solid condition, though it has lost its badge and decals (assuming it had a badge in the first place and was not sold anonymously by a department store), and the solid ruber tyres have been patched up in places. The red seat is attractive, of a very rare style and particularly suited to a red fire chief tricycle.
1937 CATALOGUE: FIRE CHIEF VELOCIPEDES
TEXACO FIRE CHIEF HELMET
FIRE CHIEF PEDAL CARS