Jack Pressman grew up working in his father’s variety store in Harlem selling school supplies, candy, sporting goods and toys, which sparked his interest in the toy industry.
In 1922, Pressman founded J. Pressman & Co. with partner Max Eibitz. In the early years, Pressman’s line consisted of all sorts of crafts, games and activities. Everything from metal “Bolb Ball,” similar to Skillball, to wood “Child’s Clothes Pins,” a toy Zellaphone, like a xyzlophone and much more.
As early as 1937, Jack began seeing the value of licensing popular characters and matching them with new or existing products. Snow White crayon sets, Snow White cut out doll (1938), Little Orphan Annie bubble pipe (1937), Quintuplets embroidery set (not licensed but based on a real life news story), are some early examples.
Their first hit was Chinese Checkers, which they acquired the rights to in 1928. Early sets were made of wood or metal, with glass marbles.
The original factory was located in Brooklyn. It moved a couple of times, first to New Jersey, then back to Brooklyn, and finally back to New Jersey. It was while the factory was in Brooklyn that Pressman became one of the pioneers of using injection molding machines to produce plastic parts for many of their products.
Pressman created and sometimes followed, many of the popular crazes of the day. Some examples of this are Ping Pong sets, Doctor and Nurse Kits, Wood Peg Chests (with pegs and chalk board), Fishing and Golf sets, Bingo, Checkers, and much more. Activity sets included Pastry sets, G Men Police set, Peg tables, Sewing sets and many more.
Pressman was known as a man of impeccable taste and worldly knowledge. He was an astute businessman, loyal, honest, caring and sharp. He was also a great teacher, having mentored many legendary toy professionals, among them the late Fred Kroll, inventor of Hungry Hippos.