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Home Casting
Jun 19, '21


As soon as I saw the archetypal Chinese coins with their distinctive square hole in the centre I knew it was true. For they have fascinated me as the circle represents heaven and the square Earth and the material realm, also a convenient way to string them together for counting and carrying. Then on investigation I had my answer, they were cast from moulds not stamped as western coins are.

In this life I have been making moulds for casting toy soldiers since I was 13 and also home casting lead bullets by the tens of thousands.

I even entertained fanciful thoughts of making a mould of a 50 pence piece when they first came out and casting my own money!!!!!

At last I knew the origin of that thought in my Chinese Jin Chan life.

Home Casting

The last time I produced figures from these moulds was 1996!

John Hill & Company

John Hill & Company or Johillco was a British toy company specialising in the manufacture of hollowcast metal and later plastic toy soldiers becoming second to W. Britain in popularity. No one knows where the name of John Hill came from.


John Hill & Co was started in 1898 by a former employee of W. Britain named Mr F. H Wood. In contrast to Britains, Johillco was the first British hollowcast figure company to sell their figures individually leading to competition from Britains who later began to sell individual figures and figures painted less ornately to be sold in variety stores like the F. W. Woolworth Company.

Johillco also manufactured Coronation and other souvenir items.

The firm's original factory was located at 2-22 Britannia Row, Islington, London but the factory was bombed during World War II. In August 1946 the company reopened under new management in Plumbe Street Burnley. Also after World War II, Johillco's chief figure designer Wilfred Cherrington in conjunction with a Mr Leaver started his own company called Cherilea.

In their book The Art of the Toy Soldier, the authors note that due to the cheapness of the figures and the individuality of their poses, Johillco figures were found more in working-class homes than the expensive Britains that came in boxes of rigid identical poses. The authors also noted the company probably used a variety of sculptors leading to various grades of quality of Johillco figures, that the authors call "the good, the bad, and the ugly".

In addition to toy soldiers and cowboys and Indians, Johillco made many figures of knights and a movie tie-in set of figures from MGM's Quo Vadis (1951 film) as well as spacemen.

Johillco was slow to realise the effect of production in plastic. From 1956 they began making plastic figures in their hollowcast moulds under the name of Hilco but the company ceased in the early 1960s.

Johillco RFC/RAF Pilot and Mechanic

My version with enhanced base for more stability. Cast in stable white metal. Solid. Lead (Pb) 75% Tin (Sn) 25%.

William Britains

Boer War CIV - City Imperial Volunteer


Jun 19, '21
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