Pronouced 'hoagy', the company was originally founded in 1909 in Manhattan, NY, by Hampden Hoge to produce
office supplies. Although the company retained his name, Hampden Hoge subsequently left the company in 1919, thus the toy trains which
bear his name, were not his idea. Henry Katz had started in the toy business as an employee for Ferdinand Strauss in 1917
and by 1928 had started his own toy business. In 1931, Katz dissolved his own company and came
to manage Hoge`s new toy division. The firm contracted construction of their toy designs to Mattatuck
Manufacturing Company in Waterbury, Conn. Train products included stamped steel passenger and animated circus cars as well as
electric and clockwork locomotives made to run on three rail 'O' gauge tubular track.
The first train products introduced in the 1931 Hoge catalogue included the Tom Thumb Railroad #881 three car electric passenger set
in 'O' gauge. It was stamped steel tinplate construction. The electric outline engine featured an operating headlight.
The set included a Pullman and an observation car. Also introduced in 1931 was the Tom Thumb RR #990 passenger set, powered by a
steam type electric powered locomotive in an 0-4-0 configuration. The set featured the engine, tender and three passenger cars - two Pullmans
and the observation car. Each set came with track and transformer. Extra track and transformers were also available for separate sale.
The early electric sets included a transformer that was concealed
inside an orange and green tin-plate lithographed ticket office station named the #655 Tom Thumb Power House.
In 1934 Hoge introduced the Tom Thumb steam freight set.
It featured a steam locomotive, tender, box car,
tank car, gondola and caboose. These cars used a hook and slot coupling mechanism. A Union Pacific M10000 articultated
Streamliner, set #900 was also introduced in 1934. It was a popular train
and remained catalogued throughout the company's production years. It featured a polished chrome finish and sold for $3.50.
In 1935, Hoge introduced its New York,
New Haven & Hartford Comet streamliner, based on the real prototype that
was unveiled that same year and ran on the eastern seaboard of the US. That same year they released
the #750 Circus set, featuring a Commodore Vanderbilt type locomotive, tender, three animated Circus cars and a caboose. The
animated cars contained circus animals that moved back and forth inside their cages as the train rolled down the track. The circus
set sold for $3.50 with track and transformer. Hoge's
top of the line set #1000 featured the Commodore Vanderbilt engine and polished chrome streamliner passenger cars. The engine had
a 0-6-0 wheel arrangement and measured over a foot long. This model featured
the first use of a reversing unit in Hoge train production. It sold for a whopping $6.
Hoge also offered set #500 which was a great
running mechanical streamliner (clockwork powered) version of
their electric diesel style streamliner. It sold for $1.50. Hoge's 1935 ad campaign was "See Hoge Before You Buy."
In March 1936, C. L Rivenburgh, who eight years earlier had been a sales manager at
Ives Manufacturing, was brought on at Hoge Manufacturing, with similar duties.
Train line manufacturing ceased completely in 1939 although sales of inventory was continued through 1942.
Hoge was then bought and eventually dissolved by Mattatuck in 1958. Mattatuck converted the tooling and dies for the toy trains
to other product lines. Henry Katz and Company subsequently purchased Buddy L trains. The Hoge Company
laid dormant for almost forty years until it was purchased on March 19, 1981 by Newbraugh Brothers Toys, Inc. of Berkeley
Springs, WV. Newbraugh Brothers purchased the Hoge name, trademark, and rights to make and manufacture Hoge Toys. The Hoge name
is currently the property of Robert Hoge (no direct relation to the founder), of Wasco, IL, a Hoge collector, who acquired all
rights in 1991.