Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The History of the Hasko Tray

I have always wondered about the history behind the wood Hasko lap trays that you often see on Etsy and Ebay, especially the hunt scene ones. I don't own any but have always thought that they'd make great tv trays and are typically very inexpensive to buy on these sites. 

The company has an interesting and illustrious history.  The company, Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation (1917–1956) was a conglomerate of companies based in Michigan. They manufactured haskelite plywood for a wide variety of applications and vehicles. Their office headquarters were located in Chicago but the manufacturing operations were in Michigan.  

The company initially made plywood for World War I military airplane body parts. The plywood later was used in houses, buildings, automobiles and ship construction. Different styles and types of plywood were made for particular niches. The corporation made the largest plywood ever produced, which was used in constructing a particular US Navy boat. A well known use for the Haskelite plywood produced at the Grand Rapids facilities was for the construction of Lindberg's airplane, The Spirit of St. Louis.  

The Hasko trays were made much later on in the company's history and were quite popular. Walter F. Gibian, supervisor of the company's Specialty Division, had the idea for the product. His goal was to make economical serving trays for the general public through mass production. Serving trays were thought to be a "luxury item" up to that time and the trays were very popular. 

The next products Haskelite manufactured were in the toy market under the brand name "Hasko." These consisted of "fortune telling" mystic trays and boards that were so called "talking boards" of the future. These included models of the Mystic Tray, Mystic Egyptian style Board, and the Hasko Mystic Board with different zodiac borders. "Hasko" was one of the prolific producers of these mystic "talking boards" in the world. The Hasko Mystic Trays were introduced in 1942 and the Hasko Mystic Boards in 1944. 

The trays were made much earlier than I expected as they company ceased operations in 1956.  Who knew?  You can find sets on Etsy for less than $25 in most cases. Some even come in their original box. 

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