By Karl Schnelle
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
As we learned in Part I, a collector in Denmark tracked down one of three Brdr. Petersen and interviewed him in the 1980s. Then, a local reporter heard about this and published an article about the brothers and their company. Another Danish collector saw this newspaper article and created a website about these toys! The website was deleted after the owner, Lars Nørholm, sadly passed away in 2002. However, I saw the website around 2000 and translated it to English (with help from Google translate).
Here is that translation with photos copyright from BP collectors from Denmark and USA: Viktor Kristoffer Lyby Tolsgaard, Thorben Hjortlund, and the author.
Brdr. Petersen – B. P. Legetøj (B. P. Toys)
By Lars Nørholm
In 1945 B.P. Toys started production of metal toys in Fredericia, Denmark. The company was started by three brothers: Svend Åge, Thorkild, and Christian Petersen. Svend Åge had always worked with metal and had worked as a metal worker for Voss. He experimented with making various kinds of toys. Almost for fun he made a relatively primitive car model, a DKW passenger car. He sold the car to a Mrs. Holm at the local toy store called 1000 Tings, on Gothersgade, in Fredericia, where it was sold for DKK 2 (Danish Kroner). The car was a huge success, and thus the foundation was laid for starting his own production.
By the end of the 1950s, toy production was over, and after only 13 years the company changed to producing gas tanks for mopeds and oil-burning heaters. At that time, there was no longer big money in toy cars, and competition was very tough from Tekno, Vilmer, and the like! “All children loved Tekno and Vilmer cars”. The company did not have the large amounts of capital that were required to buy new castings machines and make molds for new models.
Therefore, B. P. sold their molds and casting machines to a workshop in Odense, Denmark, which planned to continue production. But the project never succeeded and so everything was lost.
Interview with Svend Åge Hanghøj Petersen
NOTE: The following excerpt is from a newspaper article written by Poul Bech, Fredericia Dagblad, many years ago.
Two of my brothers who worked in Copenhagen, Thorkild and Christian, moved back to Fredericia. We owned two motorcycles and a motor boat, and it all was sold to provide the necessary start-up capital, says Svend Åge. In the autumn of 1946 we moved to other premises at Kirkestræde 16, and the production of an improved DKW car was started up on an assembly line. I think about 70,000 cars were sent to market of this type!
We later purchased three injection molding machines and tools and a new model was launched, while the DKW was dropped. The new model was a Ford V8. It became an even bigger success, so we now only produced the Ford V8 the next year, only this model! The money came in quickly and the Ford V8 became B. P.’s most popular model. In the first year, we made 3000 Fords a week and the total production probably approached 400,000. The car was sold across most of Denmark for 3.75 DKK.
The Ford V8 was manufactured in many colors, with red being the most common. In the company we had an efficient way to find the most popular color! The neighborhood children were invited to the factory at certain times. They were offered ice cream and were then allowed to take the car they liked best home with them. As a rule, it was the red colors that were preferred, so the factory ramped up the red models.
Collecting B. P. Toys
We all learned a lot and improved, and new models were sent to the market every six months. It took us a long time to develop a new model. First, a basic wooden prototype was designed and then one in clay. After the prototype model had achieved its final design, tools and molds had to be ordered. It could easily go six to seven months before we were ready for new production.
Today, there is no overall list of everything that BP has made, but the number is approx. 12-15. However, each model was produced in large numbers with relatively many variations. The finish was top-notch, and the models could almost match the quality of Tekno and Vilmer’s early production, although BP did not take the aspect ratio so seriously. The individual models did not have a consistent scale, fluctuating between 1:50 and 1:30.
The toys were sold in colorful boxes produced by a local Fredericia company called ALPAP. The name Brdr. Petersen, or BP, soon became known to the oil company of the same name, and they began a collaboration with the company. Soon one could find in the toy shops nationwide cars bearing the oil company’s brand, BP Benzin: a tank truck, gas pumps, a petrol station and a truck that transported 10 gas cylinders made of wood. [Ed: The BP symbol and color are different on the toys, so please see Part I for more details.]
Shell also quickly became interested and a similar agreement was reached. Brdr. Petersen never received money to advertise but instead got paid with the transfers / decals that were used on the toys.
Alongside this production, Brdr. Petersen produced the much sought-after moped and motorcycles. The range includes an NSU Quickly moped, as well as the motorcycles Nimbus and Ariel as a solo bike or with either a side-car or a small flatbed!
Brdr. Petersen is also remembered for their agricultural toys: a Massey Harris tractor with a number of implements that could be connected to the tractor. Among these tools are a two-wheeled trailer, fertilizer spreader, plow, harrow, seed drill and reaper!
Alongside the car, truck, and tractor models, there was also time for other things. Thus, an unknown number of airplanes were produced to order. It was a fantasy design inspired by the comic book Jens Lyn (Ed: Danish translation of Flash Gordon!) that was popular with Danish boys at the time! Brdr. Petersen also received orders for 10,000 metal doll heads in two sizes for Algrema in North Jutland, but it is not known how many had actually been produced.
Also, the company tried to launch a puzzle game, but it failed. At the end of the 1950s, the production of toys ended after a total production of about 700,000 toys sold and delivered to the Danish market! Brdr. Petersen then changed production to subsequently concentrate on other, more profitable tasks!
Additional Production After Toys
The company then moved to new premises in Dahl Rasmussen’s Breeding Farm at 6 Julivej 5 in Fredericia, where they produced gas tanks as a subcontractor for Diesella, a moped manufacturer in Kolding, DK. Initially, the flat tanks were mounted to the luggage carrier, but in later production, a more modern oval tank was used on the moped. Brdr. Petersen was given an order for 10,000 tanks at 25 DKK each. The result of the work was so good that they subsequently became Diesella’s main supplier of gas tanks.
Brdr. Petersen expanded the workforce to 10-12 employees, welded tanks from morning to evening, and at some point also made tanks for S.C.O. and other Danish moped factories until the end of the 1960s, when the moped era was running out. The company was no longer able to find new markets.
Christian and Svend Åge stopped working at the company around 1965, when they both got jobs at the Carl M. Cohr Sølvvarefabrik (silverware factory). All the production equipment was sold to the Poul Christensen metal foundry, who for some years continued production in West Funen (the Danish island east of Fredericia).
Complete List of BP Products
• Ford V8 Passenger car
• Truck, semi-trailer, and semi-trailer with wooden gas bottles
• Tank truck and semi-trailer, both with Shell or BP logo
• Petrol stations
• Jens Lyn airplane
• Metal figures: Freedom fighter, Montgomery, and King Chr. X
• Race car (open-wheel)
• Toy iron
• Doll heads
• Nimbus motorcycle, solo, with sidecar, or with flat sidecar
• Ariel motorcycle, solo, with sidecar, or with flat sidecar
• NSU Quickly moped
• Massey Harris tractor
• Tractor accessories: Reaper-Binder, Disc harrow, Wagon, Plow, Seed drill, Fertilizer Spreader
• Wooden gas station
We welcome your comments and questions. Please go to our Model Auto Review Facebook page, or email us at maronlineeditor at gmail.com.