Morestone (Morris & Stone)
'Esso' Petrol Pump Series
The 1950's was a golden age for diecast toy makers. With the end of the Korean War during which supplies of zinc had been restricted, toy makers were again able to exploit the growing demand. Lesney started the famous Matchbox models in 1953, Benbros followed with the TV Series in 1954, and in 1956 Morris & Stone launched the 'Esso' Petrol Pump Series.
Rodney Smith, one of the two founders of Lesney (his name provided the '-ney' of Lesney) owned his own foundry in Clapham, London, and after leaving Matchbox joined with Sam Morris to manufacture Morestone Series toys and develop the 'Esso' range of miniatures. Several models were also made by Modern Products Ltd. whose foundry was next door to Morris & Stone.
The first ten went on sale in September 1956 packed in boxes representing 'Esso' petrol pumps. They were an immediate success and within a year the Series had grown to twenty models, helped no doubt by special offers of a free 'Esso' Garage and later a half-price Foden Petrol Tanker.
But surprisingly this success was not expolited despite the often excellent quality of the toys and the series never got any further additions.
In 1959 Sam Morris launched the Budgie range of large and OO/HO scale toys and at the same time transferred the 'Esso' Series models to Budgie Miniatures where they were sold in 'Budgie' blister-packs or 'Mobile' and 'Modern' boxes.
The boxes of the 'Esso' Petrol Pump Series were printed to look like Esso Petrol Pumps when the top flap, which had a long tuck-in, was pulled part-out.
Model details were printed on one side of the box and included a line-drawing illustration. The manufacturer was listed as Morris & Stone (London) Ltd.
On early boxes, the model name and number was in small print and quite hard to read so before long larger numbers were added.
Finally, all boxes were printed with both model number and name in large font.
On the base flap of the first boxes there was an offer of a free cardboard 'Esso' Garage if 10 box numbers were collected and sent in. The numbers were printed on an inner base flap. There was also a Garage Coupon included in each box giving more details.
The Garage was on the same scale as the Petrol Pump boxes so it was much larger than the models.
When this offer was ending, Morestone overprinted the base flaps (in blue or red ink) stating that the offer would close on 31st March 1957.
After this, a new offer was started giving a half-price discount on the price of a large-scale Morestone Series Foden No.1 'Esso' Petrol Tanker which was more in keeping with the scale of the Garage.
For this, 15 Tanker Coupons, one of which was included in each box, were needed plus 3/6d postage.
The final type of box carried the model number on the base flap and included a Tanker Coupon.
For complete guide to Budgie Miniatures issued after the Esso Series ended click the link button