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G&J Lines

G & J Lines was a pioneering company in the manufacture of rocking horses, and its history is a fascinating story of craftsmanship, family dynamics, and the evolution of toy manufacturing. Established in the mid-19th century by brothers George and Joseph Lines, the company became renowned for its hand-carved wooden rocking horses, which were among the finest of their time.

In 1876, George and Joseph Lines established G & J Lines, leveraging their experience and skills in the toy trade to set up premises in London. They became one of the largest toy manufacturers in Britain, noted for producing a wide range of toys, including the highly sought-after rocking horses, as well as fairground rides, life-size dummy horses for tailors, horses’ heads for pubs, tricycle horses, and various other wooden toys.

G & J Lines rocking horses were known for their distinct characteristics, such as flared nostrils and sometimes a breastplate. These horses were supplied to major retailers like Gamages, Selfridges, Harrods, and Army & Navy Stores, making them a common feature in the homes of the affluent【8†source】.

The rocking horses produced by G & J Lines were initially on bow rockers, but after 1880, they began to use the Marqua patent for safety stands, which became a standard in the industry. This transition marked a significant innovation in rocking horse design, enhancing both the safety and aesthetics of the toys.

However, the success story of G & J Lines took a turn following World War I. The returning next generation, armed with fresh ideas about manufacturing and keen to innovate beyond the traditional wooden horse, faced resistance from Joseph Lines. This led to a split, with Arthur, Walter, and George founding Lines Brothers in 1919, marking a new era in toy manufacturing. Lines Brothers eventually became a significant player in the toy industry, adopting the Tri-ang trademark and expanding into a wide range of toys beyond rocking horses.

Despite the transitions and changes in the industry, the legacy of G & J Lines and its contribution to the world of toys, particularly rocking horses, remains celebrated. The company’s craftsmanship set a standard that still inspires collectors and enthusiasts today.

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