While this early pull toy engine bears no maker’s mark, I’m attributing it to the W. S. Reed Toy Company (founded in 1875) because it shares key design features with other known Reed toy trains, including the Reed Mother Goose Jack & Jill Floor Train, Boston and Maine Passenger Train, and the Grant Golden Gate Special.
Made of lithographed paper over wood, with much of the original lithography intact, the “Hercules” engine has the same front and rear wheel design — down to the same lithographed paper on the rear wheels; a row of four lithographed, painted smokestacks on the top of the engine; a realistic lithographed engineer and coalman in the cab; and various patriotic motifs, including an American Eagle and a gold escutcheon topped with the date 1881 (presumably the date the toy was released.)
I believe that, for the most part, the engine is original but, based on other Reed trains, the “cow catcher” on this one may or may not be an early replacement. Other features of note are the square nail construction and the initials FAH written in graphite on the underside of the train, along with the numeral 85.
The toy’s dimensions are 17” l X 7-1/2” h X 4” w. Good to very good overall condition.
NOTE FROM JEAN: For a look at known Reed trains, check out this link to a 2004 Noel Barrett auction for similar examples that sold.