Morestone Essem Stage Coach
Issued 1952-1958 Length 165mm
Faced with the closure in 1951 of F W Birch & Co., Morestone needed to find a new supplier for their successful stage coach models. Whom they found to manufacture the Essem Stage Coach is not now known but the model was a completely new design and made use of plastic in a major way for the first time in a Morestone model.
Morestone probably chose to use the name 'Essem' to market this model because the 'Kansas to Texas' Stage Coach made by F W Birch was still on sale in some toy shops under the Morestone Series label. In fact 'Essem' boxes had already appeared for the last run of the previous 'Kansas to Texas' Stage Coach but they were coloured yellow to identify the old all-metal Birch models inside. The new 'Essem' coaches were always in a blue box. The name 'Essem' is thought to derive from the initials of the owner of Morestone, Sam Morris.
The Essem Stage Coach was inovative in several ways. Unlike the Birch models, the coach was cast in one piece but without a roof. A rectangular tinplate roof was then added prior to painting. Underneath at the rear 'Made in England' was cast on later models but to start with there was no identification on the model.
Morestone used plastic extensively on the Essem Stage Coaches. The wheels, shaft, horses, driver and guard rifleman were all made of it and undecorated except for the figures who were given coloured jackets and skin-tone trim on their faces. The jackets were usually yellow but for the 'Hawkeye' issue they were orange. The driver was held in place by a peg which fitted into a hole on the driver's seat.
Morestone used black plastic for the majority of the Essem coaches but some horses and figures were made of dark-brown plastic. The colours appear to have been interchangeable and brown was probably not tied to a particular variation.
Unlike the previous all-metal models, the Essem Stage Coach was produced in only one main colour which was red, except for the 1956 'Davy Crockett' issue which was orange. Morestone produced two matching Walt Disney 'Davy Crockett' models at that time, both with special boxes, the other being the 'Davy Crockett' Covered Wagon.
The last appearance of the Essem Stage Coach was in 1957 with the issue of a 'Hawkeye - Last of the Mohicans' version based on a TV Series. The coach colour reverted to the original Essem red for this issue although the figures were given orange jackets instead of the usual yellow. Like the Davy Crockett issue, there was a matching 'Hawkeye' Covered Wagon.
Apart from the special issues, the Essem Stage Coaches were sold in blue printed boxes with, on two sides, 'Kansas to Texas Stage Coach' alongside a drawing of a coach, and on the other sides 'Complete with Two Horses and Driver' printed in a similar scheme to the F W Birch all-metal Stage Coach boxes. On the end-flaps, however, 'Essem Series' was boldly printed.
On the 'Davy Crockett' and 'Hawkeye' special boxes the 'Essem' name was dropped and 'Morestone Series' or 'A Morestone Product' was included on the end-flaps.
The red & black Essem Stage Coach is not too hard to find although the black plastic is sometimes brittle or broken after 50 years and the figures of the driver and guard are frequently missing. The 'Davy Crockett' orange coach is scarce, the orange figures in the 'Hawkeye' set are very scarce, and both the special boxes are quite rare.
Morestone Essem Stage Coach
1) RED (some w/o id.) BLACK plastic wheels/shaft/horses/figures (yellow jackets) ESSEM box
2) ORANGE (with id.) BLACK plastic wheels/shaft/horses/figures (yellow jackets) DAVY CROCKETT box
3) RED (with id.) BLACK plastic wheels/shaft/horses/figures (orange jackets) HAWKEYE box