Dick Schnacke of Wetzel County, West Virginia’s preeminent maker of
folk toys, is featured in an article in the latest issue of GOLDENSEAL magazine,
now on sale. The article, titled “Whimmydiddles and FlipperDingers: A
Visit with Toymaker Dick Schnacke,” by Catherine Moore, recalls Schnacke’s
rise as a toymaker and entrepreneur, and his involvement in the West Virginia
craft movement of the 1960s and ‘70s.
According to the article, Schnacke gave up a successful engineering career 40 years ago to produce folk toys. His Mountain Craft Shop in Proctor employed 15 people at one time and produced 45,000 toys annually.
A founding member of the Mountain State Art & Craft Fair, Schnacke has remained involved with the annual event near Ripley since it was started in 1963. The 2003 fair was dedicated in his honor. He is also still involved with the state Arts and Crafts Guild, which he helped organize.
His first book, American Folk Toys, has sold more than 100,000 copies since it was published in 1973. Although he has recently sold the Mountain Craft Shop to neighbors Steve and Ellie Conlon of Thistle Dew Farm, Schnacke remains active. In addition to consulting for the Conlons, he is completing two more books on folk toys.
Also in this issue of GOLDENSEAL are an article on Fairmont’s Sagebrush Round-up country music show; the recollections of 94-year-old Marie Robinette of Matewan, an eyewitness to the infamous 1920 Matewan Massacre; and an account of a pioneering organization for black women, the Charleston Woman’s Improvement League.
GOLDENSEAL is West Virginia’s magazine of traditional life and is published quarterly by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston. The magazine sells for $4.95 and is available at Witchey’s Shop & Save in New Martinsville and Peoples News in St. Marys or by calling (304)558-0220, ext. 153.