Seaworthy boats, jacrim manufacturing

Dedicated to collecting, preservation, identification, restoration, and displaying the boats designed by Chester Rimmer and manufactured by SEAWORTHY BOATS, JACRIM MANUFACTURING and KEYSTONE.

So many of their toy boats have survived to date and many may disappear if not recognized for what they are – A true American hand crafted Toy boat with beginnings in the 1920’s and ending in the machine age of the ‘50’s.

For years collectors have been buying and selling toy boats and sailboats with the label Seaworthy Boats- Guaranteed to sail- Chester Rimmer navel Architect and later boats marked Jacrim Mfg. Hollow Boat and then Keystone. The company's products were both sailboats and toy motorboats with wind up motors, rubber band powered boats, Tom Thumb floor toys, Ride Em toys and forts and furniture. There is a misconception about Seaworthy Boats. There never was any registered company with the name Seaworthy. Jacrim manufacturing had as its president David W. Rimmer, John W. Rimmer was secretary and Chester was treasurer.

 

The Seaworthy Boats are the most sought after toy boats by collectors of all other toy boats on the market, from Chein’s “Peggy” series tin boats, Rich toys, Tillicum toys, to Starr and Bowman sailing Yachts from England, and Lionel, Lindstrom, Mengle motor boats and many other lesser name products. These production boats differed from the home built pond boats created by fathers and sons in the thousands with each entirely different. First, Seaworthy Boats were designed by an MIT trained navel architect, second they really would sail, and last the boats looked good, floated on their water line and were inexpensive by today’s standards. Later Seaworthy Boats Jacrim Manufacturing was acquired by Keystone Manufacturing and were then factory crafted and, I might add, also very well made.

 

The Pond Boat Story & A Little History

Today the term “pond boat” also called “pond yacht” is used to name anything that looks like it would float or be a toy boat. I believe Pond Boats have been made throughout eternity both as toys and models. Early records back more than 3,200 years ago like Egyptian petroglyph (pictographs  on rock carvings) and pot drawings show small boats with oars, paddles and sails. Boats have even been found in tombs of ancient kings.

The earliest boats were probably just wood or pod droppings that floated and were played with by children. Egyptian petroglyph and pot drawings depicted boats of many types. Some Pharos and Kings were buried with their boats. However, soon boat builders realized that a model could be used as a plan since there were no drawings or computers. By the time America was settled half hulls and scale models were used extensively for building ships. The builders were parents so I am sure some time was also spent to make boat toys . I have owned examples of these with clockwork motors and intricate complete sailboats.  As you know there wasn’t a lot of time for fun for kids and many worked very long hours from an early age.

One of the early experimenters with model boats was by Benjamin Franklin who put a small model in a 14 foot boat hull in a tank and dragged it to determine how it would sail. This was noted in a letter Franklin sent to Sir John Pringle in 1768. What we have left today are examples of these items in complete models, half hulls and early photographs. The models were sailed by men, women and boys in ponds, lakes, parks, rivers and harbors all around the world. There are photos of crowds of people in New York Central Park sailing huge gaff rigged model boats at the turn of the century.  Most of these people sailing were men.

Sailing got a lot of press coverage starting in 1851 when the schooner “America” beat the British boat in a race around the Isle of Wight.  This event was named the “Americas Cup” and was held by the United States until 1983. Late in the Century the Model Racing Union of North America was formed. The boats were complicated and heavily canvassed with a six foot boat carrying 2,200 square inches of sail. They were essentially miniature versions of full size boats. Most of this sailing was based around New York City.  By the 1920’s the Union had died out.

Prior to WW1 there were American, handmade boats of all kinds -sail, steam and wind up. Wind up boats had clockwork motors, some boats had complete steam boilers with steam engines and many more were sailboats. Besides the many home built boats, there was organized sailboat racing with several model yacht sailing sizes. The Class “A” models were up to 85 inches long, with masts up to 9 feet high. These boats were scale models of full sized boats and were built after the turn of the century. Most of these were gaff rigged as was the configuration popular in that era. In Europe many toy boat companies copied famous battleships, ocean liners and cargo ships of the day and were generally more detailed. Many American manufacturing companies then got into the same business and began making similar American toys. Both are highly collectable today and very pricy. Some of these American companies were Schoenhut Company 1872, Wilkins toy 1890 became Kingsbury Mfg 1919, Bliss 1832, Mengle 1920’s and J Chein 1903, Jacrim Mfg 1921 & Keystone 1911. There were hundreds more that have diapered. I have a model of J. P. Morgan’s  1891 “ SS Corair” yacht with a working, live steam engine complete with boiler for steam as well as provision for sails built by  by an unknown skilled craftsman.  These boats were sailed on ponds and the owner followed in a row boat to retrieve and turn the model since there was no way to control their direction.  Also a few Toy companies began offering dolls, Trucks as well as well as boats and other toys.

During the Depression years the US Government set about to create jobs and built many ponds designed for pond model boating. The idea was people needed to be busy and earn a living and working with their hands to build a model yacht was good experience. The US Government through the WPA gave people jobs to build the ponds and create parks. There was no TV and little Radio.  In the 1930’s aManual Arts teacher named John Black designed a racing class boat called a Marblehead 50/800 and followed it with a book “Yachting with Models” and it started international competition that is still continuing today. The original rule was 50 inches long and 800 square inches of sail. This class boat became an international sensation and others followed with boat designs that matched those class rules. Today many other classes are available and are administrated by The American Model Yacht Association. The older boats are represented by the Vintage Model Yacht Group.

What we have today are relics of the past from attics, barns, garages basements, trash piles and other storage areas. Many have been destroyed by play and age. They can be carefully restored either by complete repainting or cleaning and touch up keeping the original flavor of the toy.  The windup motors can be oiled and the sailboats can have new sails and rigging. This does not totally devalue the toy. These restored toys rescued from oblivion will only increase in value over time. And over time they will disappear.

Lately there has been a resurgence of copies of all kinds of toys both mechanical and sail. These have been crafted and copied from old time toys and can be pretty attractive and are made off shore from America. Many times these are sold at prices close to the price of genuine antiques. Some are called pond boats but were never on a pond and cannot sail as there is no keel weight as in an operating pond boat. They are for shelf display only. It is my opinion that an antique boat is a much better value than a copy and definitely should cost more and will definitely increase in value with time! The new made boats probably will not. My message is buy an antique not a new made copy!