The J. & E. Stevens company was founded in 1843 in Cromwell, Connecticut, by John and Elisha Stevens. They started by producing cast iron hardware, hammers and simple iron toys. In 1866, Russell Frisbie joined the company as general superintendent, designer and inventor. Production turned into toy making and the company expanded rapidly.

J. & E. Stevens are believed to be one of the first manufacturers of cast iron toys in the US. They made a variety of toys and are most famous for their mechanical banks and cap pistols.

The company closed during World War II due to the shortage of iron, and it was sold to Buckley Brothers in New York in 1950.