J. W. Spear & Sons
|Type||Wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel|
|Industry||Toys and games|
|Founder(s)||Jacob Wolf Spier|
|Headquarters||Fürth, near Nuremberg, Germany|
J. W. Spear and Sons was a significant manufacturer of board games during the 20th century. The company was founded by Jacob Wolf Spier (1832-1893) in Fürth, near Nuremberg, Germany in 1879, producing goods such as table mats, photo frames, and waste-paper baskets.
By the turn of the century, games had become the main product, and output gradually expanded until the company become one of the best-known international manufacturers of games and children's activity kits, employing up to 600 people.
In 1932, they set up a factory in Brimsdown, Enfield, Britain to avoid customs duties. With the rise to power of the Nazis and the Spear family being Jewish, some members of the family moved to Britain. The Nuremberg factory was forcibly "purchased" by a German businessman, and survived most of World War II under Nazi control until the Royal Air Force bombed it.
The UK factory switched to military production during the war and then returned to making games. In 1954 the company acquired the rights to produce and market Scrabble for markets outside North America. As well as board games they made the Brickplayer construction toy.
The company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1966 and was taken over by Mattel in 1994 after a bidding war with Hasbro. Mattel closed the UK factory and while it still produces Scrabble, most of the traditional Spear's Games are no longer made.
- J. W. Spear at the V&A Museum of Childhood website
- Spear’s Games, Bello ring toss, ca. 1915, in the Island Historical Society Online Collections Database
- Spears Games Archive
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