FAQ’s : What is the difference between a Salesman’s Sample, a miniature and a toy?

It can be easy to confuse a true salesman sample from toys or children’s items especially if you are looking at Ebay where every small item is a salesman’s sample. But the proof is in the detail. If you look for great detail and specific aspects of the product you may well find the coveted sample. Salesman samples in metal usually have prominent company logos. Most salesman samples were made to 1/6 scale or 1/8 scale when compared to the actual product. (1/6 scale 1 inch is equivalent to 6 inches in full size and 240 inches long would be 30 inches in 1/8 scale.)

So id we find an item- we have but do the math.

I always say that everything before Andy Warhol was utilitarian. By this I mean that before we turned tomato soup into art, we made things for a reason. If you put yourself in the place of the consumer or maker- you can usually intuit why it was made. A small chair made for a child is going to be able to withstand a beating no matter how fancy- so weight so it does not tip over, lower seat height, arms usually low to hold them in and sturdy materials. For a doll, the maker would not use arms or if he did, they would be high to support the dolls arms and hold it up, it can be light weight and more in proportion to a real chair. In other words- good for display- not use. A miniature is going to be exactly to scale. And what would you need if you were a Salesman on the road in the late 19th C.

First you would want your customers to take you seriously and for you not to appear to be selling toys -so your samples would be lovely and beautifully finished. They would be perfectly to scale using the blueprints of the manufacturer and in scale, too would be the fabric. It would be an object that would not lend itself to play.

So when we go to sites that sell salesman samples of primitive or rustic furniture; it flies in the face of the purpose of a sample from a manufacturer. Not to say that furniture makers might not make a small version for sale as a decoration or toy- they might but they would be just that and you can see it in the details.

The example above of the Hoosier Cabinet shows working components in the exact materials as the original. A woman could see the flour sifter and the roll tops working. The examples below show the sturdy, weighty and low chair designed for a toddler, rustic toys to be played with and the perfect miniatures of furniture that would be available for order. We can also see the doll chairs that while lovely, would not be appropriate for a child and if blown up to 6 times the scale would not be in proportion.

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