Lehmann EPL 431 Beetle. An ingenious wing-flapping walking beetle made by Lehmann in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Lehmann EPL 685, lithographed tin dancing figure on tin dance floor base, clockwork, with original box.
Toys reflect the society of their time. They can also record the prejudices of their times and unlike textbooks are safe from revisionist historians. Stereotyped black dancers remind us that racial prejudice was far more blatant in the early 20th century. No Lehmann toy was as widely copied by other toy makers as the tap dancing “Oh My” EPL 685. The figure stands on a box which contains the drive and the mechanism.
Scarce Lehmann tinplate three wheeled wind-up EPL 345 New Century Cycle. A three
wheeled vehicle with driver and boy sitting behind with parasol. Vehicle in yellow
and black livery, red and white striped parasol with trade mark. Wind-up spring
drive propels the toy forward either straight ahead, to the left or right while
also making the parasol turn and the driver doff his hat.
In 1895 the Berlin engineer and later rocket builder Hermann Ganswindt introduced the
‘Berlin pedal-engine cab’. In the Brandenburg factory of Lehmann this mechanical
marvel became the New Century Cycle.
The brightly dressed Clown Artist, crank-operated, German lithographed tin toy by Philip Vielmetter sits at an easel, drawing a caricature of Queen Victoria. The clown's pencil is controlled by a double cam, a rotating irregular metal plate which forces the pencil to move along its edges.
In their book, "Mechanical Toys, How Old Toys Work” Athelstan & Kathleen Spilhaus show that although Vielmetter is generally credited with inventing this toy's mechanism, he probably purchased its patent from its English creator, Joseph Walker. Both toys' cams are interchangeable.
The Clown Artist was curiously the only toy made by Vielmetter. Although not as rare as the Joseph Walker Drawing Artist it is nonetheless a scarce mechanical toy and only occasionally surfaces at auctions.
The Drawing Artist made by Joseph Walker of Birmingham is a very rare painted and copper plated toy. Operated by winding the handle in the base, a double cam allows the seated figure to draw a portrait of a number of 19th century personalities – in this case the cams that accompany the toy are of Gladstone and Lord Salisbury. This toy and a discussion of its relationship to the later and more easily found Clown Artist toy by Philip Vielmetter of Germany appears on pages 18 and 19 of Mechanical Toys by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus - they date the toy to 1880 and indicate James (sic) Walker of Birmingham, England as the maker - curiously it uses the same interchangeable drawing cams as the Vielmetter clown suggesting that at some point in the late 19th century the rights to the mechanism were purchased by Vielmetter.