Small Talk Tag: Tin Toy

Imagination Takes Flight

mechanical flying toys

From the ancient Greek myth of Icarus, to Leonardo Da Vinci’s fantastical flying machines, mankind has held the desire to fly for centuries. Up until the Wright Brothers finally got it right in 1903, “gentlemen scientists,” inventors and early aviators scrambled to unlock the secrets of powered and controlled air travel. During the era of the steam-powered engine, the idea of a flying machine really, well, took flight.

Toys of course mirror the times in which they were produced. Naturally, as the world became fascinated with flying, tin flying machine toys featuring propellers, wings, parachutes and hot air balloons became a common sight in the 19th and early 20th century. This particular clockwork wind-up mechanical flying machine toy was likely attached to a cantilevered weight on a central base. When the mechanism was wound, the pilot’s legs pedaled the propeller, causing the toy to “fly” in a circle. While this imaginative depiction of early flight makes for a charming toy, we’d still prefer a comfortable window seat and complimentary peanuts.

Oc-toy-berfest

lehmann toy company

In addition to being synonymous with beer and bratwurst, did you know that Germany used to be synonymous with toys too? Germany monopolized the global toy market until World War I. The Lehmann Company was part of the German powerhouse. Founded by Ernst Paul Lehmann in 1881 in Brandenburg, the company produced small, tin toys with strong spring mechanisms that powered fun movements.

As opposed to iron, tin toys were lighter and less expensive. I mean, who wants to play with a dumbbell? Tin also allowed for colorful, lithographed designs that appealed to both boys and girls. We know our climbing monkey is a Lehmann toy because of the maker’s mark on his red hat, and EPL (Ernst Paul Lehmann) 385 and his name (Tom) on the other side. We’re guessing they labeled his hat so he wouldn’t lose it. Tom climbs the string with a gentle pull; relax the string and he’ll climb down. While our Tom doesn’t get much exercise, check out his counterpart’s moves.