Not too long ago I fell in love with old Czechoslovakian wooden ramp walkers, which were make to represent a wide variety of humans and animals, but I had never come across a Wilson Walkie, made in the U.S.A, until now--and am even more smitten, especially for the fact that a few of them, like this donkey, have four legs! (I found it in Maine along with a elephant, listed separately--rather a perfect pair for an election year!)
They were created by John Wilson, a carpenter and engineer, who in his younger days built the stair case at the Lancaster, PA Opera House. Unemployed in 1935, he opened a small studio in a garage, naming it the Wilson Novelty Company and making dollhouses and other toys. In 1936, he filed a patent application for a "Walking Toy, constructed so "that when impelled in one direction, the legs will alternately swing forward causing the toy to walk." These Wilson Walkies would become very popular over the next ten years until ceasing production one year after Wilson's death in 1948.
Wilson certainly succeeded in his mission--this donkey is an incredible walker, and hardly needs an incline to do so! From what I've learned, the donkeys--and companion elephants, which were sold together in one box--are among the rarer among them, and feature what appears to be a molded composition head, hand-painted, with leather ears (only one of which remains). Rather like the Democratic Party, he’s been beaten up a bit!…most of the paint on the head is gone, and some on the body too. But the pipe cleaner tail remains and he’s structurally it's in solid shape, and I think pretty fabulous still! 4 1/4" long x 3" tall x 1 3/8" wide.