Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Lehmann Toy Company

Saturday, November 12, 2016
Cloud with partial sunny periods
10 Celsius  50 Fahrenheit

The Lehmann Toy Company

tin toy, or tin lithograph toy, is a mechanical toy made out of tinplate and colorfully painted by chromolithography to resemble primarily a character or vehicle. Tinplate was used in the manufacture of toys beginning in the mid-19th century. The toys were made from thin sheets of steel plated with tin, hence the name tinplate. They were a cheap and durable substitute for wooden toys. The toys were originally assembled and painted by hand. Spring activated tin toys originated in Germany in the 1850s. In the late 1880s offset lithography was used to print designs on tinplate. After the colorful designs were printed on the metal, they were formed by dies and assembled with small tabs. The lightweight nature of the toys allowed them to be shipped less expensively and easier than the heavier cast iron toys. Germany was the major producer of tin toys in the world in the early 20th century. The most famous German manufacturer of tin toys was Ernst Paul Lehmann who is said to have exported 90% of his toys. France and Englandjoined the fray and it wasn't long before hundreds of thousands of these penny toys were being manufactured. Production of tin toys in the United States started earlier, but began in earnest when tin ore mines were opened in Illinois providing easily available and cheap raw materials. A number of manufactures scrambled to catch up in the beginning of the 20th century, but it wasn't until after World War I, with anti-German sentiment high, that they began to make real gains. There was a growing demand for American produced products and by the 1920s American firms had overtaken the competition. The largest and most successful firm from the 1920s to the 1960s was Louis Marx and Company. Marx produced a huge number of designs and depended on large sales volumes to keep prices down.*
 *Courtesy of

In the 1880's Germany and Europe had already developed advanced print techniques on metal using the lithography process. Salaries were low, and the Lehmann company produced 1000's of different toys for the European and North American markets. An offshoot of these type of toys (lithographed wind-up toys) was the "penny toys". These toys were inexpensive to manufacture and were literally sold "for a penny". If you go over to Bertoia Auctions and search for the 
November 11-13, 2016 Auction, you ail find at least 100 penny toys that were sold. The prices started at $ 100.00 , not bad for a 1,000,000 % profit. Of course, your great-great grandfather or grandmother would have had to pass the toy along through several generations of the family to yield this handsome profit.

For this Bertoia Auctions auctions, it's truly amazing to see just how many toy the Lehmann Company manufactured so long ago. And these toys are just some of the toys that they manufactured! What's even more amazing is that these toys are still around today, and many of them still work!

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
Have a great part of the day or night,
Wherever you may be.

Stacey Bindman

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