Vintage toy collection display planned for Iron Industry Museum

NEGAUNEE – If you haven’t outgrown your inner child – or even if you have – you can get a look at vintage toys in the new Sutter mini-exhibit beginning Monday at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

A collection of items from Joe Sutter’s toy collection will be displayed in the commons area of the museum in Negaunee Township. The entrance road to the museum is off U.S. 41 West about 9 miles west of Marquette.

The collection features iconic toys such as a Daisy BB gun, a Lone Ranger hat, Kellogg’s Pep collector buttons, a Superman Krypto-Raygun, toy cars, toy soldiers and Sutter’s circa-1940s Eagle Scout uniform. Many of the toys are in their original packaging.

Museum historian Barry James said it’s rare to have a full toy collection from the Upper Peninsula from the 1940s.

“It’s neat to have a collection from that vintage,” James said.

Sutter grew up in Wakefield, with many of his toys made in Michigan by companies such as Wyandotte Toys and the Daisy Manufacturing Company of Plymouth.

As Sutter outgrew his toys, his mother packed them away. Sutter later attended college, joined the U.S. Navy and practiced law in San Diego. He died in 1999, but his widow donated his toy collection to the Michigan Historical Museum. Here many toys were put on temporary display.

James said the toy exhibit, which will run through April, is being displayed right before the holidays.

“Our intent is to let people know we’re open year-round, and we’re starting to offer programs during the off-season” James said.

An upcoming holiday program, “Christmas Memories,” will be offered in the museum auditorium at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Seating is limited, but admission is free.

The event is a theatrical reading of holiday recollections written by Gail Galotta, based on her childhood holidays in the 1950s and 1960s. She and her sister, Carol Sundstrom, will present this nostalgic look at Christmas with a multimedia presentation that includes pictures and period music.

Galotta has written and published many stories and poems, including the award-winning “The Summer Pirates.” She was named Best Emerging Writer in 2008 by the Upper Peninsula Writers Association.

“Christmas Memories” fits in well with the Sutter Toy Mini-Exhibit, said James, who added the museum store will be open for visitors to shop for the holidays.

Toys enter the program’s theme as picking out toys in the Sears catalog is among the highlighted memories.

The museum’s winter hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of each month. Admission is free. For more information, call 475-7857 or visit

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is