Sunday, June 22, 2014

Chein Tin Toy Ferris Wheel

The outdoor antique show season has finally begun in our northerly part of the world. At the first show on our annual agenda, we found this great old tin toy ferris wheel, 16 inches tall, still in working order. When the key is wound, the wheel spins and the bell rings repeatedly (and loudly.)

Made of lithographed tin by the J. Chein Company of New Jersey in the 1930s, this ferris wheel became one of the long-lived firm's most classic and collectible toys. Its design evolved over several decades, with different images on the base, including a version with Disney characters made in the 1950s.

This earliest example has wonderful illustrations of a carnival sideshow on the end panels, and Orangeade and hot dog vendors on the front and back.

Note the Orangeade in its iconic globe dispenser.

The sideshow talker has a somewhat sinister air.

The smiling face in the wheel's center bears the name "Hercules," and this toy is sometimes referred to as the Hercules Ferris Wheel.

It is often found with the mechanism and bell missing, which is unsurprising after hearing how loud it is in operation. I imagine a lot of exasperated parents yanked the bell off after a few days of its ceaseless racket. If you find one in working order, you've found a treasure.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

More of Schuco's Miniature Teddy Bears: The Compact Bear

The 1920s were a colorful decade, filled with flappers and their extravagant clothes, stylish hairdos, and exciting evenings of dancing, boozing, and general partying.

The Schuco toy company of Germany created a line of miniature and novelty teddy bears that mirrored these social trends and are now highly sought. These bears were dyed in unusually bright colors, small enough to tuck into a little beaded handbag, and sometimes had hidden novelty features including flasks and compacts. They were charming accessories for flappers of the period to use when touching up their makeup, freshening their perfume, or topping off their alcohol buzz.

Considering that they usually held lipstick, powder, and liquids like perfume or gin, these novelty bears are rarely found today, and when discovered are usually in poor condition. They're fabulous nonetheless.

Above is Schuco's famous compact bear (the pink bear on the left) along with her lavender companion. Both are about 3.5 inches tall. The pink bear has a secret: when her head is removed her torso can be gently opened to reveal a tiny compact inside, complete with lipstick tube, mirror, powder, and puff. This one still has powder after all these years.

The lavender bear is a lovely shade and still in good condition. Schuco made these bears in a variety of jewel toned colors including red, emerald green, and purple, and they are scarce and highly collectible today.

More Schuco Miniature Bears: the Perfume Bottle Bear

Another of Schuco's novelty bears from the 1920s, the Perfume Bottle Bear is a bear with a secret. When the head of the 5 inch ted is removed, a little glass flask is revealed, perfect for an evening's supply of perfume. Schuco also made a slightly larger bear (and a monkey) with a flask inside, intended for liquor.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Schuco's Miniature Teddy Bears

Just a quick pic of some colorful characters today: two 1920s Schuco miniature teddy bears along with a 1950s Steiff elephant. The bears are a wee 2.5 and 3.5 inches tall, and were dressed long ago by a creative owner. The clown hat came from the Steiff museum shop in Germany, and successfully hides a missing ear.

Schuco of Germany made tiny teddy bears in all sorts of creative forms throughout the 1920s and 30s. Some were novelty items, housing perfume flasks or compacts inside, while others were dyed in bright colors, all to appeal to the flappers of the period and small enough to carry in their beaded handbags. More of these clever little Schuco bears coming soon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Antique German Tin Clockwork Clown Toy

Pictures don't do this toy justice: it is truly a beautiful thing. Circa the 1890s-1900s, it was most likely made in Germany, and is of painted tin with a clockwork mechanism (no longer working.)

Spotted in the cluttered corner of a toy show table, it was quite a find even in its non-working condition. The little six inch clown still charms, even with his chipped paint. His delicate construction and soft colors are very appealing, all the more so for how well they have lasted over the past 100 plus years.