While digging around for Christmas decorations for Sunday’s Ghost of Christmas Past community open house at the Barton County Historical Museum, director Beverly Komarek rediscovered two pieces from the museum’s collection, a toy wooden sleigh, and a circa 1890 horse glider. As it turns out, the horse fit with the sleigh just right. A engraved metal plate on the lower cross rail of the glider reads “Converse.”
Museum volunteer Karen Neuforth researched the engraving and found the Morton E. Converse Company manufactured toys between 1874 and 1934. Located in Winchendon, Mass., there is an enlarged version of the horse glider at the entrance to the town that was nick-named “Toy town” in the early 1900s. The company was an innovator in toymaking, developing mass production techniques that greatly increased output.
Neuforth discovered an almost identical piece online that recently sold at auction for over $1000. The BCHM mare is missing some hair from its mane and tale, but is otherwise in great shape at an estimated 120 years old.
The sleigh’s origin is unknown, and age can only be estimated as about the same. Komarek filled it with antique toys from the various collections belonging to the museum. Visitors to the open house will have a chance to view these pieces up close while they enjoy treats and entertainment by area school children and performers. Here’s the line-up:
1:00 - 1:30 Community singing of carols led by the St. Patrick Church Choir. Joe Boley, director.
1:30 - 2:00 Christmas Brass. Made up of members from the Barton College community band. JB Webster, Marc Webster, Don Regehr, Steve Lueth, and Joe Boley.
2:00 - 2:15 Great Bend Middle School Flute Ensemble. Kurtis Koch band director.
2:15 - 2:30 Central Kansas Piano Teacher’s League. Piano solos.
2:30 - 3:00 Vocal solos from Gaunt’s Music Studio. Glenna Gaunt vocal instructor.
3:00 - 3:30 Central Kansas Piano Teacher’s League. Piano solos.
3:30 - 4:00 Great Bend Middle School, Women in Harmony. Andrea Gardner choral instructor.