Frederick Henry Ayres manufactured rocking horses at their premises in 111 Aldegate London. They also produced sporting goods & a variety of toys which included toy push & pull along wood carved horses on wheels.
When looking to identify the make of a rocking horse, several factors need to be taken into consideration, such as the style of the upright turned posts on the swingstand, the shape of the hoofrails, metal brackets and swing irons and the carving style of the horse itself. Ayres rocking horses tend to be of a more masculine appearence than that of G & J Lines, their major competitor at that time. The earliest rocking horses were on bow rockers, until taken over by the swingstand which was considered a safer alternative, as bows tended to 'rock' & move across the floor when ridden, also 'crushing' little childrens toes.
Many rocking horses manufactured by F H Ayres were not trade marked, other than some of their very early period models, which sometimes can be found with an F H Stamp under the belly area (this is often uncovered during the restoration process of removing later layers of overpaint) or by way of an oval brass plaque with '118 Aldergate' inscribed & attached to the base of the wood stand. Sometimes evidence of a plaque by way of two holes where the escutcheon pins held the plaque in place exist, long after the plaque itself has been lost.
Other marks that have been found on Ayres rocking horses have included symbols such as a Maltese Cross and a Union Jack applied as a transfer to the stand base.
F H Ayres rocking horses were supplied to many outlets including the London Department Stores Harrods in Knightsbridge & Selfridges in Oxford Street London, & often had the name of the store applied to the bottom wood section of the swingstand base.
F H Ayres produced many different types of rocking horse including plain carved & extra carved style horses on bow rockers, the safety swingstand rocking horses to the 'D' type 'Special Carved rocking horses that although of a later period were carved with extra attention to detail to mimick the muscle tone of a real horse, with a turned & twisted set head to give the impression of a horse champing & pulling at the bit. Quite spectacular!
A difference to the usual wood safety swingstand design was that of the 'springstand' on which the hoofrails were attached to swing irons which hung from two strong metal springs, that were fixed to the wood stand base. This design perhaps wasn't as popular as the wooden safety swing stand as there appear to be less of the springstand rocking horse around.
William Sykes Ltd took over the company of F H Ayres arround 1940 and consequently these later 'Ayres' rocking horses can be found with 'H' shape plaques where part of the plaques inscription has been cut away. These later circa 1940's rocking horses can also be recognised by the cruder style of carving which included thicker pasterns to the horses front legs and 'beady' looking eyes, as a smaller glass eye seems to have been used enstead of the more generous sized ones in the earlier period horses.
Many people hold F H Ayres rocking horses in high esteem and they are certainly well carved, especially some of their earlier models that are quite breathaking in their quality and stance and as lovely as they are there are many more makes of rocking horse some of uknown manufacture that are as equally lovely if not more so...
As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
Please note, the rocking horses on this page are not available for sale. The photos are for your interest.