An Obsessive Collector Opened a Museum of Vintage Sleds

The beloved Flexible Flyer Sled was invented in Burlington County in 1889. A free Moorestown museum displays dozens of rare designs from all over the country.

Vintage illustration of children on a Flexible Flyer sled
Samuel Leeds Allen invented the Flexible Flyer sled in New Jersey in 1889. Image courtesy of the Flexible Flyer Sled Museum

If your beloved sled was a Flexible Flyer, you’re likely to see one just like it, no matter the style or year, at the Flexible Flyer Sled Museum in Moorestown. 

Located in the vestibule between the Moorestown Library and Town Hall, this free museum features 27 Flexible Flyers that were produced between 1890 and 2014. They include rare sleds, such as the Fire Fly, which cost $2 in its day.

The founder and curator of this unique museum is Philip Snow, who loved to sled all day with his three older brothers during winter visits with their maternal grandfather in Moorestown.

Snow, 62, who grew up in Delran and Marlton and now lives in Ocean Grove, realized about eight years ago that no one had created a museum honoring these well-crafted sleds and their brilliant Moorestown inventor, Samuel Leeds Allen, who crafted the first of many toys that have their roots here in New Jersey.

Inside of the Flexible Flyer Sled Museum in Moorestown. 

The Flexible Flyer Sled Museum in Moorestown features 27 of the iconic sleds. Photo courtesy of the Flexible Flyer Sled Museum

So Snow opened the Flexible Flyer Museum in 2015, in collaboration with Joseph Galbraith, the library director at the time.

Nearly every sled in the museum is from Snow’s personal collection. Disappointed in adulthood that he no longer had his own childhood sled, he began purchasing old-time Flexible Flyers in a tribute to his passion for the sport.  

He started with one from the 1930s that he discovered in a Moorestown antiques store for his young son Andrew. When daughter Amelia, born two years later, was old enough to sled, she, too, received a Flexible Flyer.

Snow obsessively collected sleds from all over the country, paying anywhere from $3 to $300 for each. Eventually, more than 40 of them filled the garage and basement of Snow’s home in Pennsauken.  

“One day,” he says, “my wife, Denise, said to me, ‘Would you please get those sleds out of here?’” That may have been the moment that inspired him to create the museum. He chose what he considered the best examples from each era, along with several donated sleds and a pair of 1938-50 wooden Flexible Flyer skis, originally $14.50, and their poles. He also set up a glass display case that holds rare paraphernalia about Flexible Flyer history.  

The largest Flexible Flyer ever made is also on display, and you can’t miss it. It’s 8 feet, 5 inches long; 16 inches wide; and includes four pairs of metal footrests. Retail price in 1900: $12.

For more unique museums in New Jersey, check out our guide to under-the-radar treasure troves.

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