Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thrift Shop Treasure

I was sailing through the aisles of the local Salvation Army Thrift shop, searching for an ugly Christmas sweater for a party, when what to my wondering eyes should appear???..... old Flexible Flyer sled!

Isn't it beautiful? I oiled the wood to make it shine. They are still made today in Maine, but the sleds were first designed and built by a farm equipment manufacturer, Samuel Leeds Allen,  in 1898.

File:Flexible Flyer Ad.jpg
This is one of the original ads for the sled.
Sales didn't take off till they began being sold in department stores in 1915, when 120,000 of them were sold.

File:The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis - Sled.jpg\
The one pictured above is from 1936 and on display in the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.  

I cannot tell from my research how old mine is--it is in such good condition, it is probably not too old. A brand new one can be purchased from Walmart for $85, though it doesn't have this lettering nor the same markings. This one was $30 at the Salvation Army, and is quite usable. 

In my brief research, there seems to be an active collector's group with lots of details about how to date them. It is quite detailed, and I have neither the time or patience to search it out now. This arrow is painted on the middle oak rail and also seems to be one way of dating it.

The new ones look like this:

("So mine is obviously older", she said to herself triumphantly.)

The runners are made of strong steel, and are still sturdy despite the encroaching rust.

Regardless of its age or pedigree, I think it looks quite handsome and festive on my porch. We are now ready if the midwest blizzard reaches this far across the country. 

The view from the steps.

The cardinal in the wreath seems quite taken by it. 


  1. It looks exactly like the one we sailed down many a hill on in the 1970's! I love your amazing find!

  2. I love it - and love thrift shopping! Wish we could go together. xoxox

  3. Had one as a kid. A memory igniter!

  4. I love visiting here, Karen.

    What a treasure you found! About 20 years ago when we had very little funds, we found a great little sled like that one (minus the steering capability) in a Sally Ann as well as an old pair of wooden skis which we waxed up and gave to our young niece for Christmas. Had a blast with them and they are still functional.