What is this old Duncan?


#1

I’m new here. Hopefully this is the right place for this question. It seems like there was a thread for “what’s it - what’s it worth” but I have been unable to find it after registering. Sorry.

It’s not my first yo-yo but I found it cleaning out my grandfather’s tool box. I’m not sure I want to sell it as it reminds me of him, but I am curious what it is. I have been unable to find anything on it.

It’s a Duncan made of wood. 1.75" in diameter and about 1" thick with large rounded corners.

Side 1: DUNCAN REG.U.S.PAT YO-YO
Side 2: YO-YAMA WOHLINE NEW YORK

I’ve seen many pics of these small wooden Duncans but none matching these markings. I suspect it was a promotional Yo-Yo for some company. The only thing I can find related to any of these key words is that there was a clothing company in New York in 1920 called L. WOHL & Co. that made a line of childrens dresses called “WOHLINE”. The picture advertisement I found was published in 1920. I couldn’t find how long this company was in business but it looks like Duncan didn’t start until 1929. Perhaps there is no connection here. Maybe it’s an entirely different and much more recent “WOHLINE”.

Anyone seen this before? Looks like a common Duncan shape but again, I haven’t found any reference to these markings. See attached picture.


#2

I’ve got a number of these little Duncan’s. None with that stamp on it though. They were from the 50’s, or so I’ve been told. Marketed toward little kids. I have a friend who gave me 3 of them, that he got when he was a kid in the 50’s, that’s where I got the info I have on them.


#3

Thanks for the info! Sounds like it’s pretty common and not really worth much. Thanks again for your help!


#4

I believe you have a “Beginners” throw. I have several as Duncan and a couple as advertising gimmicks. You can find pictures on eBay.


#5

I don’t recognize it, possibly an advertising yoyo. The model is basic duncan, the stamp on the back I don’t think I’ve seen before.

I’d try to find out a bit more about it before discarding it as junk.


#6

Yes, the shape looks like a beginner model, but not labeled on either side as such. I wish I could find more info on the “Wohl” company, how long in business, and how long they had their “WOHLINE” clothing. That’s about all I have to go on and makes sense since it was clothing for kids.


#7

I suspect the yo-yo is either from the 1930s, or the 1940s at the latest. Here’s why I think that:

All these points suggest that the yo-yo is from the 30s or early 40s. Just remember: this is based on piecing together various characteristics of your yo-yo and comparing it to other known wooden Duncan models.

As for its value, prices for vintage yo-yos are usually too volatile and highly subjective. There are many factors at work. It the end, though, it’s worth whatever someone is willing to pay. That’s why I never (or very rarely) post a price for 99% of my exhibits in the Museum of Yo-Yo History. It’s a museum and not a valuation guide. Instead, I let the original manufacturers and the after-market decide their value.


Regarding Wohline, you may want to further refine your query by using “L. Wohl & Co.” (if you haven’t already done so). Google returned this interesting bit of information:

“Beneath Rubin Bros / Cloaks & Suits is a very faded sign for L. Wohl & Co. / Childrens Dresses (click for image). The sign dates from 1911 to 1913. The founder was Lazarus Wohl (1861-1928?), an immigrant from Hungary around 1895. Wohl appears in the U. S. Census of 1900 living on East 5th St. with wife and three children. He gives his occupation as Neckwear. And the earliest listings in the New York city directory (1903-1907) give neckwear as the nature of his business. In 1908, however, this changed to Infant’s Dresses, and the L. Wohl & Co. that moved to 50 W. 17th St. was engaged in the manufacture of children’s dresses. The stay on 17th St. was brief, but the company continued to make children’s wear in New York until 1962. This ad for L. Wohl & Co. on 4th Ave. appeared in Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Directory, July, 1919."

At any rate, it seems your yo-yo may very well be among the earliest wooden, advertising-branded yo-yos that Duncan released. You may want to consider adding it as an exhibit to the Museum of Yo-Yo History. If so, reach out to me through a personal message.


#8

Thanks for confirming much of what I was thinking. I needed experts like you and your fellow members to stitch together the characteristics like shape of the curve, diameter, styles of printing, etc… If only my grandfather was still around. He might have known much more about it. Then again, he had it stored in a tool box or misc. parts drawer next to some spare tire caps, springs and greasy spark plugs in his garage. He may have picked it up at a flea market and known nothing about it, or that he even had it.

I’m primarily a collector of vintage minibikes and I can appreciate the complexity of piecing together tiny clues to see the bigger picture and narrow down the possibilities. Short of finding an old promotional advertisement or very old woman with a fantastic memory and a WOHLINE dress, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. You guys (and the museum site) have taught me a lot about the seemingly endless and subtle changes in size, shape, font, printing, etc… Thank You!

I came across much of the same information you did about L. Wohl & Co. and the “dry goods” advertisement from 1920. It was the only reference to “WOHLINE”. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a reference to how long they made that particular line of clothing. That would really narrow it down if it were only for 5-10 years. Thanks for finding that paragraph - very informative.

I also found this image. http://digital.hagley.org/1972430_0089 It connects the company to a design related to the 1954 Miss America Pageant. Funny where an old red YoYo can lead you. This all feels like an episode of History Detectives on PBS where they trace leads and connect the dots back in time to solve a mystery.

We have the same saying as you in the antique minibike world I live in - “It’s worth what someone is willing to pay”. It’s a little easier in my world to give a valuation because models were a bit more defined, with only a few fluctuations to determine the early or prototype runs of a bike vs. mass production. Plus, I only have to go back to the 60’s and 70’s, not the 1920’s.

I’d be happy to add it as an exhibit. Maybe someone will see it and say “hey, I have one too”. I’ll PM you regarding that.

Thanks everyone for the help. If anyone comes across more info, please add it.