Thursday, July 6, 2017


After entering World War II at the end of 1941 America immediately swung into war production mode. Materials and manufacturing capabilities were shifted to the war effort. Industries that did not have workers, skills and manufacturing capacity that could adapt to contribute to the cause faced the possibility of severe production cutbacks at best, and potential closure at worst. In fact many such businesses did not survive. But as 1942 began the stakes for the free world could not have been higher. By February the War Production Board (WPB) mandated sharply reduced use of critical materials for non-critical manufacturing, effective March 1st:

Boston News Bureau, February 19, 1942 (from the NCCHP archives collection)
Among non-critical industries were music instruments and toy manufacturers. Noble & Cooley sat squarely in the center of both industries but once again "Yankee ingenuity" prevailed and ways were found to apply drum-making skills and equipment in ways that would support the war effort, using locally sourced material.

Working with Ensign Bickford, located in nearby Simsbury, Connecticut Noble & Cooley shifted to the manufacture of spools and reels for Ensign Bickford's primer cord product (commonly referred to today as primacord). Typically used in mining operations, the explosives detonating cord was suddenly vital to the war effort:

Primer cord reels and World War II sign on display at the NCCHP museum (NCCHP photo)
 At the same time work went into finding ways to continue toy drum production using material that would not detract from the war effort. This would also provide much-needed jobs to the many Granville area families who depended on the income. Noble & Cooley came up with an ingenious use of cardboard to create drum shells and drum hoops, replacing the use of metal for these parts. Unfortunately this method did not create the most durable drums thus they are very rare today, but they brought some much needed happiness to the birthdays and holidays of many children during some very dark days for the country and the world.