"Clockwork Toys"

  • “CLOCKWORK TOYS”   The word “clockwork” is used to describe mechanical or windup toys. These wind-up toys were activated by the use of keys and cranks that activated small springs which in turned gears when released. They were quite popular in the 19th Century. The early windup models frequently depicted adult life as can be seen in bicycle figures, wobbling drunks, etc. and were made from painted tin along with composition, fabric, and wood. These toys typically ran for a few minutes and could perform actions such as writing a letter or a figure climbing a ladder. Some of the more popular toys depicted acrobatic circus clowns, trapeze artists, and animals. A very rare composition toy depicting George Washington watching a child chop down a cherry tree recently was auctioned at a price of $10,620. This toy was in very good condition with no fading, tears or smudges so quite naturally brought top dollar. When shopping at The Brass Armadillo, keep an eye out for the toy dealers as there are quite a few who specialize in windup toys as they have a wealth of knowledge, as well as sizable collections of their own. Keep in mind that when these toys were manufactured, they were not designed for rough handling, and of course those that exist today are ones that were put up and saved for “good”.