Louis Roussy, a Swiss citizen, (probably) founded LR between 1926 and 1928. 'LR' are his initials, and also of the 'O' gauge trains he named 'Le Rapide'. With his partner René Trubert, he designed lead soldiers, small cars and the miniature electric and clockwork driven trains sold under the brand name Le Rapide or LR. The company also marketed model planes and ships. A factory was built in Trappes, in Yvelines over a 2 year period between 1930-32. It was Louis Roussy's intention to produce quality toy trains for young customers by using carefully chosen materials, such as thick sheet steel, wood, brass and later, cast aluminum. The trains produced were beautiful and were considered more finely finished and more loyal to French prototype than those made by competitors Hornby or JEP. LR operated until 1956. The brand was sold in 1961 to JEP.
A 1934 advertisement for Jouets Le Rapide LR promoted "the fastest train in the world of toys" (le train marchant le plus vite dans le monde des jouets). These were electric trains equipped to operate on 20 volt current. LR trains were not scaled to the 1/43.5 'O' gauge standard. They were closer to a scale of 1:60. Although they operated on 'O' gauge track, these trains were smaller in size and with less mass were capable of exhibiting higher speeds without derailment. Hence their name: Le Rapide.
Prior to 1936 Le Rapide mainly produced toy trains. In 1935 René Trubert was asked by Roussy to design an electric car racing system. The resulting toy invented was completely original. It employed stylish scale model autos that rolled along freely on a metal roadbed that did not utilize a slot or central guide like most other road racing toys. By the end of August 1936 Louis Roussy began promoting his great new novelty item "L'Auto-Route LR" to toy dealers announcing it as a revolution in electric toys, and that this toy would be an attractive item for their shops and catalogues. It was also touted as an ideal product for Christmas giving in 1936. Production of the Le Rapide auto racing sets was in very small numbers due to the expensive price, and ceased with the outbreak of World War II, making these sets very rare and valuable to collectors.
Find more history at: tcawestern.org.
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