State Library of South Australia logo To be a child
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Dancing bear
Title : Dancing bear Dancing bear
Add To My SA Memory
Source : [Clockwork dancing bear] [toy]
Format : Toy
Dimensions : 170 x 190 x 90 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Donated by : Mrs Jennifer Dow
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

Clockwork dancing bear with man and tambourine.

Novelty clockwork toys were made in many categories: people in all manner of activity, clowns, animals, circus figures. They had a wider appeal than more specialised clockworks - such as cars, planes and even trains - and, because they did not become outdated by more advanced models, their appeal could last several generations.

For many centuries Germany was the centre of toy manufacturing in Europe. The production of mechanical tin toys was a natural extension of this. While Germany dominated the trade other European countries, including France and England, also manufactured in this area: notably in England Frank Hornby invented Meccano and Hornby trains in the early 20th century.

In the 19th century, America began manufacturing mechanical toys and in the mid-20th century Japan entered this lucrative field. While at first their toys were purely imitative and with little individuality, by the 1960s Japanese toys were of increasing sophistication and were well finished items. Japan and the United States of America continue to lead the world in toy production, having assumed the mantle lost by Germany following the two World Wars.

Further reading :

Bartholomew, Charles. Mechanical toys, London; New York [etc.]: Hamlyn, 1979

Gardiner, Gordon. The all-colour directory of metal toys: a pictorial guide to the art of collecting international playthings, Sydney: Lansdowne, c1984

Hillier, Mary. Automata & mechanical toys: an illustrated history, London: Jupiter, 1976

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on