Rosy Cheeks

The Toy for Healthy Little Bodies

According to the manufacturer, the ‘Irish Mail’ cart was the only form of outdoor exercise that kept children in robust health: ‘Their bright eyes, rosy cheeks and well-developed little bodies will be your best reward.’

First manufactured in 1906 by the Hill Standard Manufacturing Company from Indiana, USA, the Irish Mail cart became a wildly popular toy around the world. Its design was based on the handcars used on American train tracks. The toy was called the Irish Mail because it was the nickname used by Irish rail workers for these simple vehicles.

In Australia, generations of Chappell children enjoyed riding this Irish Mail cart on the wide verandahs of their family home on the banks of the Severn River in Dundee, northern NSW. The home, called Devon House, was built by their grandfather John Robert Chappell in 1876.

Imagine the children’s squeals of delight as they steered the cart with their feet, and pushed the handle backwards and forwards to make it move as fast as they could. There were likely many squabbles over whose turn it was among the nine Chappell children.

The cart was possibly bought from Utz General Store in Glen Innes. The store was built and founded by a German man, Johann Frederick Utz, who became a close friend of John Chappell after they worked together in the 1850s on Rangers Valley Station in Dundee.

Although the Hill Standard Company went out of business during the Depression, the design for the Irish Mail cart has survived. Rest assured, you can still buy simple push carts which will keep your kids rosy-cheeked and healthy.