Has anyone every heard of this: Dowst Santa's Bag o' Toys??
I was asked this by someone who read one of my listings and was hoping that since I seemed to know something about Cracker Jack toys, I might have some info on this. I told him the following:
I don't know how much help I can be on this, as my expertise is limited to mostly Cracker Jack toys, but I'll tell you what I do know, as the relationship between Dowst and Cracker Jack is well documented. In fact, at one time in the very early 1900's, Dowst and Cracker Jack were only a few blocks from each other in what is now downtown Chicago.
The Dowst brothers were in the trade publication business, having to do with the laundry industry, when in 1893 one of them went to the Worlds Fair in Chicago and saw a linotype machine, which would cast a line of type at a time. He thought this would be the perfect technology for casting small metal findings, such as studs and collar buttons, for the laundry supply side of their business.
Eventually, they made a small metal flat iron, as a give-away or promotional piece for a laundry (I believe), and this may have been the beginning of their toy business. It was also used in Monopoly sets.
Long before they evolved into the Tootsie Toy company, they made hundreds of different small cast "pot metal" or "slush metal" inexpensive toys, well documented in their early catalogs. Cracker Jack bought tons of these for their very early prizes, which was also well documented, as Cracker Jack (Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein in those days) kept very good archival records of toy purchases. Cracker Jack bought toys from many suppliers, and Dowst sold to many different users (dime stores and the like).
Lots of crossover, so when we find a small metal train, car, doll or shoe, we can know that it was a toy that Cracker Jack purchased, but we don't really know if that example of it came out of a Cracker Jack box or was bought at a dime store.
From the name of your item, I would guess that it was a seasonal packaging of a bunch of small metal toys that Dowst put together for retail and/or catalog sale, and since it had their name on it, it might have been done a little later in their time, when the name Dowst was well enough known for toys by the consumer, but before they changed to Tootsie Toys, maybe late teens or 20's.
Hope you found this somewhat interesting, although not necessarily helpful.
I will pass your question on to some of my Cracker Jack collector friends and see if anyone has any further information, and I'll get back to you again either way.
If any of you can add anything to this, I would pass it along.