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Clockwork animals
Title : Clockwork animals Clockwork animals View More Images
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Source : [Clockwork toys] [toy]
Place Of Creation : Germany
Publisher : E P Lehmann
Date of creation : 1890s
Format : Toy
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Donated by : Lucy Family
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Description :

Beetle, with its original box labelled 'H.A.A.& S. London. Made in Germany' 'Engl. Pat. No. 6074', crocodile and seal.

The beetle crawls around jerkily, and opens and closes his wings. The seal has moveable flippers activated by a front wheel, and a tail wheel that propels it across the floor or table in sweeping arcs. The crocodile advances with snapping jaws.

Clockwork toys revolutionised the 19th century toy market, as their small owners no longer had to push or pull their toys, but could wind them up and watch them move independently. Eventually mass production brought cheap clockwork toys within the reach of many children.

Ernst Paul Lehmann of Brandenburg, Germany, began specialising in these toys from 1881. In particular he was noted for catering to the export market, tailoring his toys with characteristics that had appeal to those markets. In addition to the special ingenuities of Lehmann toys, their good design and finish and their cheapness made them a popular choice. Lehmann continued to produce the toys until his death in 1934, when the company was continued by his successor. His range of toys included cars, buses, trains, a range of novelties, and animals, including the swimming seal, snapping crocodile and the beetle, and utilised a variety of mechanisms that induced movement.

Ivy Lucy (b. 1893) recalled:

We lived far away from any shops and as it took several hours to get to Adelaide by horse and sulky we rarely went there, but sometimes Father brought home as a treat a mechanical toy or a special game. We could read only when the jobs were completed and we had washed our hands-but not on Sundays. The mechanical toys were brought out on very special occasions and used under the strictest supervision. (Bayfield p. 3-4)

As a result of the careful handling by the donor family the wind-up toys are still beautifully functional.

Further reading :

Bayfield, Juliana, The Lucy Collection children's books and games of the nineteenth century [Adelaide: The Library], 1984

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

Spilhaus, Athelstan. Mechanical toys: how old toys work, New York: Crown Publishers, c1989

Internet links :

Brighton and Hove Museums: Toys, mechanical Virtual Museum of selected Lehmann toys

E P Lehmann toys

Exhibitions and events :



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