The Tom Kuhn “Dove and Mountain” Original Yo-Yo

Up until last month I felt pretty confident that I had a complete list of all the yo-yos that Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos ever released. So, I was surprised when I came across a Tom Kuhn Original yo-yo from the 1970s. A yo-yo so unique and rarely seen that I wasn’t sure Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos really made it. It took a bit of research to find out it’s origin. I’d have posted this on the TK Filed Guide Instagram page, but Instagram now limits posts to 2200 characters so… Enjoy.

Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos produced the Original for a very brief period in the 70s. According to Lucky Meisenheimer’s book on collectible yo-yos, the Original (#1581 42) is very rare and the line was discontinued. I believe it was introduced at the same time as the Beginner’s but never had a second run. The only mention of the yo-yo in printed material from Tom Kuhn was on a Special Limited Editions price list that came out around 1986-87 (see below); about the time the Diamond Specials were released. The Original was available in very limited quantities for a low price of $4.00 on that price list; the same price as a Beginner’s yo-yo at that time.

The Original is a uniquely unique yo-yo from Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos, a company known for many different versions of its core yo-yos. The shape of the yo-yo mimics the shape of the famous Duncan Chief up-and-down yo-yo from the 1930s and 40s; less rounded overall with each half looking a bit like a tapered hockey puck.

This shape is not unique to the Original as you can see in this photo; the Original (center) essentially the same shape as the Up & Down Beginner’s Yo-Yo (left) and the No Jive Jr (right) from Tom Kuhn. The Original is unique from these two similarly shaped models in that it is a three-piece, fixed axle yo-yo that is not modular like the No Jive Jr, and not a fixed-string model like the Beginner’s; the Original can sleep but can’t be taken apart.

The design of the Original is also similar to the No Jive Jr. and Beginner’s Yo-Yos in that it is a two-tone model. Both halves of the yo-yo are stained allowing the natural grain of the wood to show. The one I found has a red and a yellow half. I’ve seen photos of Originals in other color combinations.

The most unique aspect of the Original is the design on one half of the yo-yo. The design features two birds flying over a mountain range with a sunrise and the word “Original” leading to the yo-yo being dubbed the “Dove and Mountain.” It is a simple, elegant design that evokes the types of hand-carved pictures that yo-yo demonstrators in the 30s and 40s would apply to wood yo-yos with their pen-knives. The types of carvings that I’m sure Tom Kuhn would have seen in his youth.

The design is heat-pressed into one side of the Original; a similar technique to the Beginner’s model stamp that allows for much finer lines than the stamps on the traditional No Jives. This allows the design to have a level of detail and beauty surpassing the laser etching of the era. The reverse side has no markings. There is no mention on the yo-yo that it is from Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos, which is also very unique.

The collectability of the Tom Kuhn Original is yet to be seen. Prior to a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure that this model was really from Tom Kuhn Yo-Yos. I’ve only ever seen one of these on eBay and it sold for a lot. I hope that shedding light on the history and pedigree of this model will help other collectors find more of these unique Tom Kuhn yo-yos.


Thanks you Chris for gathering your research and history for us to enjoy!


Oh that was a great read thanks!