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Chad Valley Games – Escalado Horse Racing Game

February 21st, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Chad Valley – Escalado


Let me start with an apology : I said I would try to give some guide as to dating the popular Chad Valley  game of Escalado in response to a request from a visitor to the site. However, like lots of things in life, it is never as straight-forward as you might at first imagine. So I have tried to steer a course through the last 80 something odd years of Escalado and attempted to keep this post somewhat simplistic and give just a superficial guide as to the dating of any edition.


The game has always been sold under the Chad Valley name, although more recently other parent companies or associated companies may have also been printed on the box. ie the Palitoy take over in 1978  / the Chad Valley name acquired by Woolworth in 1988 / and finally the Home Retail Group purchasing the brand in 2009 so that now the Chad Valley name is only available through the Argos catalogue, all these had an impact on the wording to be found on the box.

Many of the editions of the game would also have included a ‘Royal Warrant’ printed on the box which again would give an indication as to date.

Early editions also showed a difference in the horses themselves. Initially having a high lead content meant they were more malleable than their modern day counterparts which resulted in the legs tending to bend as the horse was pressed down in order to ‘seat’ the horse firmly to the course. Horses themselves were heavier due to their composition, initially approx. 100gsm. and cast with finer detail with the jockeys holding whips. Whereas the slightly later editions of the early 1930’s saw the weight of the horses reduced slightly, to around 92gsm., and the jockeys no longer sported their whips. Still with the horses, and early editions had cast into the underside a shortened version of ‘Copyright of the Proprietors’ which reads ‘Copyri of the Propri’. The word ‘England’ could also be found, again in raised letters, to the inside front left leg of the horse. Later editions simply had ‘Chad Valley’ in raised letters to the underside.

By the 1960’s the horses were of a lighter metal alloy manufacture and by the 1990’s were to be found moulded in plastic.

With regards to the Escalado box, before 1938 Chad Valley held no ‘Royal Warrant’ and so boxes pre-1938 carried no ‘By Appointment’ notation or ‘Coats of Arms’ insignia.

1937 saw King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later the Queen Mother) ascend to the throne and in the following year Chad Valley were approved a ‘British Royal Warrant of Appointment’.

From that date, all Chad Valley toys displayed a label stating ‘Toy-makers to Her Majesty the Queen’, this was until 1953 when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.

During the war years 1939-1945 toy production throughout the UK was either suspended completely or drastically reduced.

In 1953-‘By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’ was a newly named Royal Warrant held by Chad Valley which reflected her new title.

The earliest editions of the game used a coated linen race cloth and tension straps, with wooden studs/obstacles, lead horses, and a wooden vibrator box.

Later editions from the late 1960’s then started using plastic vibrator boxes and straps, synthetic linen cloths with plastic studs/obstacles, and metal alloy horses.

The latest editions, from the 1990’s used all plastic track, vibrator boxes, straps and horses.

 < Early 1940’s Edition

 Box lid carries the Royal Crest with the wording ‘By Appointment Toymakers to Her Majesty the  Queen’.




Late 1940’s Edition >

Later 1940’s version again with Royal Crest surrounded by the wording ‘By Appointment Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen’.




< 1950’s Edition

Same box design as previous but on this the Royal Warrant is by ‘Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.’



Early 1960’s Edition >

This red box design would date to around the late 1950’s to the early 1960’s.





< 1960’s Edition

1960’s pre decimal edition of the game. Graphic illustration to lid with Escalado wording in perspective.



1960’s – 1970’s Edition >

Barclay Securities edition after their buy out of the company in 1971, this version assumed to date from around 1972 – 1978.


It should be noted that these are by no means the only boxes produced in which the game of Escalado were sold. Indeed Escalado was marketed for export all over the world and from that point alone there was potential for any number of box colours and labels. Although I have stopped at the 1970’s version the game was produced for many years afterwards, indeed right up to and including todays version, but by the late ’70’s the Chad Valley name would feature alongside another on the box, that of its new owner. So it is at that point that I am limiting this look at one of the most iconic table top games there has been.

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  1. Frances wright
    October 24th, 2015 at 20:50 | #1

    I have acquired a long wooden boxed escalado racing game complete with horses and in great condition could you possibly advise me of the value of this item I have searched everywhere

  2. dave
    October 29th, 2015 at 20:00 | #2

    Hello there Frances …. if you’ve read any of my earlier posts when asked for prices you will see that its not that simple. You can have two similar item but they can differ tremendously in value. As we often say no matter what you are selling it comes down to condition, condition and condition. So without even a picture its almost impossible to say what your Escalado game is worth. To be honest I very rarely see them offered at auction as a single item and when they are even the pre-war sets rarely fetch more than around the £45.00 mark. Your best bet is to pop it along to your local auction house, most of them have someone who deals in the toy sector and they will be happy to advise you of its worth.
    Hope that helps, David

  3. January 12th, 2016 at 20:08 | #3

    I want a escalado game but live in canada……i want one with metal horses…..how can i find one? is there a shop in london that might have one?



  4. dave
    January 14th, 2016 at 22:02 | #4

    Hi there Duane,
    No idea as regards the London shops as I am up in North Yorkshire ! As you are looking for an older set your best bet I would suggest is still somewhere like ebay. Failing that try one of the English auction houses many of which have specific toy auction sales. If you try somewhere like the ‘saleroom.com’ they will list the various auction houses and simply use the keword ‘escalado’ to search.
    Hope that is of some help. David.

  5. tom cook
    September 11th, 2017 at 11:43 | #5

    Hi, You say that the horses originally had jockey’s with whips, some debate about that as
    the horses in question have C.J.. Hill &co. on the underside &not Chad Valley.(I have a set myself), and have tried to verify that the set is original, but without any joy. Interested in
    your findings.
    Thanks Tom.

  6. dave
    September 22nd, 2017 at 14:47 | #6

    Hello there Tom, I would love to give you a definitive answer on this, but as I said at the beginning of my post on the Chad Valley Escalado horse racing game, it was intended to give a relatively simplistic over view rather than a comprehensive history of the game itself. To go into detail on just this one game amongst many from Chad Valley would take more time than I have got and to take in the eighty odd years that it has been around would create a book in its own right.
    Unable to confirm if the jockey’s with whips only came out of the J. Hill stable (sorry, couldn’t resist that one !), my particular set was sold some time ago so unable to say if they could be attributed to a particular maker. I do know that the horses for the game could be purchased seperately from Chad Valley in boxes of five I think, whether these were outsourced to other makers I have no details of that to date. Other makers of racehorses suitable for use in the game that I have come across included Britain, Hill and Timpo.
    Let’s not loose sight of the fact that Chad Valley were not noted for producing lead figures and one could argue that it is quite possible that all the horses supplied with their Escalado game were in fact bought in from other makers.
    Cheers, David

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