HAROLD VAN DOREN & JOHN GORDON RIDEOUT
One of the first generation of American industrial designers, Harold L Van Doren began working in the field in the 1930s. His early visual outlook was informed by a training in art history, studying at the École de Louvre in Paris, lecturing in the Louvre Museum, and translating important texts by Ambroise Vollard on Cézanne and Renoir. He held the post of assistant director at the Institute of Art in Minneapolis from 1927 until 1930 when he established a design consultancy with John Gordon Rideout in Toledo, Ohio.
An early collaborative product was their plastic‐cased Air King radio of 1933, the stepped‐back form of which echoed the lines of contemporary skyscrapers. In the same year Harold Van Doren & Associates replaced their earlier partnership. Van Doren and Rideout worked on a number of designs for children’s play equipment for the American National Company in the mid‐1930s, comprising the streamlined Skippy Airflow pedal car, tricycle, and scooter.
American National Co, which included Gendron among its various Toledo based companies, was one of the world’s leading manufactures of wheeled toys, and their products had an excellent reputation for build quality and longevity. In the early thirties, they decided to update the style of their wheeled toys to reflect the new interest in ‘streamlining.’
Designed by top stylists Harold L Van Doren and John Gordon Rideout, who had just made their name with a revolutionary new style of radio, the ‘Air King’, the completely new range of Skippy products made its debut in 1933. The 23 Skippy items included tricycles, pedal cars, bicycles, scooters and sleds. Other designs for the American National soon followed, and the streamlined tricycle featured here was patented in 1935 (below).
1935 American National Streamline Velocipede Tricycle
16″ Front Wheel
10″ Rear Wheels
AMERICAN NATIONAL CO
American National was formed in 1925 as a holding company for Toledo Metal Wheel, National Wheel and American Wheel. In 1927, American National acquired Gendron Wheel Company and produced tricycles under the names of American-National, Toledo, Gendron, Pioneer, Skippy, Express, Reliance, Hi-Speed, Hi-Way, Speed King, Blue Streak, Sampson, American, and Streamline. Each company had their own products and catalogs.
Most of their tricycles were sold through wholesale companies and department stores, who often gave them different model names. Other manufacturers made tricycles with similar styling, also listed in catalogues as ‘Streamline Velocipede Tricycle’ rather than as individual model names. So it can be very confusing now to identify different models and makers. Detail changes each year also serves to confuse: both of these catalogue illustrations show subsequent variations to the tricycle featured here.
HAROLD VAN DOREN & JOHN GORDON RIDEOUT:
MORE TRICYCLE PATENTS
1937 SKIPPY STREAMLINE VELOCIPEDE TRICYCLE
The best known tricycle design from Van Doren and Rideout was the Skippy range of products. You can compare the Skippy tricycle here.