Joseph Walker Mechanical Drawing Artist

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.

Here is a video of the artist in full creative flow.

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 erroneously name James (sic) Walker of Birmingham, England as the maker.

Curiously this toy 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.

Joseph Walker only made a handful of different toys; very few of which have ever been found (see also Joseph Walker's Bubble Blower)

From his trade catalogue in the Birmingham Library, Walker is characterized as 'Designer, modeller, Diesinker, Toolmaker, Stamper, Piercer, etc - Patentee and Manufacturer of novelties and fancy goods in Silver, Electro and Nickel Plate, Copper, Brass, Aluminium etc'.


Dimensions: 4.5" sq. and 5.5" high

Production date: estimated 1880

Condition: excellent (some plating and paint losses)

References: Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus

A Century of Toys from the London Toy & Model Museum

The 1895 patent application for an improvement to this toy can be viewed here.

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