Lionel and Matchbox

Joshua Lionel Cowen (b. 1877) was working as a window dresser for a department store. In an effort to attract the attention of would be shoppers, Cohen made moving displays. Putting the electric motor from a fan into a cheese box and fashioning track from copper tubing, he built a little train engine. It would do circles in the store front window. Cowen hoped the movement would draw attention to the merchandise on sale.

When customers starting asking more questions about his trains that the store merchandise, Cowen started selling his electric trains. Lionel Trains was created in 1900 using Cowen’s middle name.

Jack Odell- Inventor of the MATCHBOX car.

In 1953 Lesney products was an English toy company. Jack Odell was co-owner of the company and he decided to help his daughter with her school assignment. It was “Show and Tell Day” and the rule was the item the students could bring in must be small enough to fit in a match box. Jack made a tiny vehicle small enough to do the job. It was a street roller.

Odell’s street roller was such a hit with the kids that Lesney Products started producing the “Match Box” line of toy cars. Lesney products continued to create and produce their signature MATCHBOX cars up in till the company went bankrupt in 1982. At this time the MATCHBOX name, tooling and molds were picked up by Universal Toys and Mr. David Yeh.

The original MATCHBOX.

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