Cast iron toys at NMIH
Peter and Charlie Dent spoke about their family’s manufacturing legacy at the National Museum of Industrial History at 602 E. Second St. Dec. 14. They described how their great-grandfather, Henry H. Dent, and his business partners founded the Dent Hardware Company in 1894.
The Fullerton-based business produced hardware for refrigerators and cold storage units in their brass and iron foundries, as well as other specialty items. Between 1898 and 1937, the company added cast iron toys to its product line.
When NMIH Curator of Collections Andria Zaia introduced the Dent brothers, she related how their uncle, Richard Dent, had discovered a trove of cast iron toys behind a padlocked attic door in an old building on the Fullerton manufacturing site.
Several of these, from the Dent family collection, including a steamboat, carriages, farm wagons, fire trucks, banks, and cap pistols are on display at the Smithsonian-affiliated venue through Jan. 12. NMIH Guest Services Manager Robert Kent added Dent manufactured toys to the exhibit from his private collection.
In attendance was Douglas Dodge, who had purchased the family business in 1985. Dodge’s son Tim currently manages what is now called Dent Design Hardware.
Peter Dent told the story of how their late uncle, Charles C. Dent, revived Leonardo da Vinci’s unfinished project of casting a massive bronze horse statue. After his uncle’s passing in 1994, Peter Dent oversaw the casting’s completion and installation in both Italy and Allentown. Material related to the 15-year project, including a small “Leonardo’s Horse” replica sculpture is part of the exhibition.
Former Da Vinci Science Center Chairman Peter Dent is currently president of CDG Environmental, LLC, in Bethlehem, PA.
Charlie Dent, a former United States representative serving Pennsylvania’s 15th district, is a senior policy advisor for DLA Piper and a political commentator for CNN.
Information: nmih.org; 610-694-6644