BAYKO and the 1937 Paris Exposition

Not for the first time in my life, a BAYKO inspired contact has revealed a substantial chunk of my ignorance, but, until I received an email from Tony Tinworth, I was completely unaware of the 1937 'Paris Exposition'.
Tony was a young lad in 1937, and already the proud possessor of a BAYKO collection, including a set #6, which he shared with his brother.
In 1937, his parents attended the highly prestigious Paris Exposition which is best known for the aggressive juxtaposition of the Communist Russian and Fascist German pavilions, and for Picasso's newly painted Guernica being on display in the Spanish Pavilion.
Contemporary postcard showing the British Paviallion at the 1937 Paris Exposition
For the record, there was also a British Pavilion, designed by Oliver Hill, among the forty four different national exhibits, though sadly I've been able to discover precious little about it, other than a couple of postcards from the period, the first postcard, an exterior shot [right]…
Contemporary postcard showing the British Paviallion at the 1937 Paris Exposition
…the second postcard [left] an interior shot. It is shown here courtesy of Chris Boutal. To the right of the photo you can just catch a tantalising glimpse of what would appear to be the entrance to the children's toy exhibits, which included BAYKO.
Frustratingly, the Royal Institute of British Architects Picture Library owns an image of the toys exhibit area. Chris Boutal and I believe this shows a bay, with the Turreted top of a BAYKO model, in the adjacent bay, just visible over the top of a display cabinet. Unfortunately the RIBA want fees of £72 to enable me to display the image - what a nice organisation!
The Exposition opened on May 25th, 1937 - the day after Empire Day and my dad's 17th birthday, and 364 days before Kelloggs opened their cereal factory in Manchester - and closed on November 25th, 1937, which was, I suspect, the day Tony's parents attended. No less than 31,040,953 other people visited the 105 hectare [259 acre] site, averaging almost 167,000 visitors a day!
If you have any information about the 1937 Paris Exposition, then I'd love to hear from you…
The BAYKO mentioned above was displayed on a two or three tiered wooden base, covering several square feet [perhaps 3 or 4 feet by 1 or 2 feet]. The models themselves were described by Tony's parents as “several castles”. The exhibition was closing as they were viewing things and the BAYKO display was actually being dismantled. Tony's parents decided to make an offer for the models, which was duly accepted, and they were packed up and dispatched to Tony's London home.
So what exactly was on display, and who was displaying it?
Page 6 of the 20s series manual showing catellated models
The description of the models as “several castles” puts me in mind of the line drawings used in the manual produced for the 20s series sets [left], and, indeed, orange turrets, so indicative of these sets, were included in the parts which were purchased. We know that these sets were launched to the public in 1938, so their presence at what was, at least in part, a 1937 trade exhibition, is perfectly credible.
We also know that castellated models were included in the 'New Series' manuals, launched in 1939, so they were obviously felt to be a the latest thing - just right for Paris?
The second question is more difficult to answer with any degree of certainty. Prior to the 1939 announcement that BAYKO marketing had been brought in house, all such activity, including attendance at events like the British Industries Fairs, was managed, for Plimpton, by Berwick's Toys of Liverpool. That, of course, does not mean that Plimpton weren't involved here!
I have also been able to discover that a London-based organisation called Abbatts, who both advocated and sold toys which specifically help in childhood development, provided the toys for the Goldfinger-designed exhibit 'The Child' for the British pavilion in the 1937 Exposition, so it is just possible that the BAYKO was included via this route.
If you can add any more information about 1937 Paris Exposition then I'd love to hear from you…
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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