I have collected the composition and tinplate toys by Elastolin, Hausser,
Lineol, and others for many years. My introduction to these was when a man brought a cookie tin into my shop that he'd found in his Grandmothers attic. It had remained undisturbed since 1946 when she brought it to the US as an immigrant from Holland after the war. We carefully opened it and found within a DJ armband, a youth copy of Mein Kampf, and an assortment of toy soldiers. Quite the time capsule!
Highly detailed composition soldiers in various scales
but most are in the 7.5cm size were accompanied by intricately made
tinplate vehicles and composition trenchworks. The pieces made during
the IIIrd Reich reflected the politics of the era and SS, SA, Hitler
Youth and political leaders can be found as well as wehrmacht soldiers.
Company histories will be added to this page as time permits
produced tin toys beginning in 1880 when brothers Adolf & Ignaz Bing set up
shop for toys (kitchen wear prior to that) in Nuremberg. By
1900, Bing was the largest of the German toy companies. The "Nuremberg Style" of
manufacturing toys on stamped out steel sheets with lithographed designs that
were then formed and assembled using tabs & slots, was perfected by Bing
and was widely used by other makers. World
War I forced Bing out of the export market and in 1916 Ives and A. C. Gilbert
Company formed the Toy Manufacturers Association and lobbied to protect the
U.S. toy manufacturing industry. The
post-WWI market was not good to the German toy makers. By the late 1920’s, Bing was in serious
financial trouble and with the rise of Adolf Hitler the Jewish Bing family fled
to England. In 1933 Bing closed it’s doors with much of its
material acquired by Karl Bub.
Bing items can be identified and dated by its trademark. Items bearing the letters "GBN" for
"Gebrüder Bing Nürnberg" (Brothers Bing Nuremberg) in a diamond
date before 1923, while items bearing a sideways "B" next to a
"W" (for "Bing Works") date from 1924 to 1932.
In 1859 Theodor Friedrich Wilhelm Märklin
(1817-1866), a master tinsmith, started producing accessories made of tinplate
for dolls' houses in the town of Göppingen in the South German state,
"Kingdom of Württemberg". After his death his sons Eugen and Karl
carried on the tradition with another partner, Emil Friz. The name became "Gebr. Märklin &
Co.". Their toys became more and
more technically advanced and success came in 1891 with a railway-system with
clockwork locomotives. In 1907 with a new partner the company renamed itself as
"Gebr.Märklin & Cie".
In 1912 Märklin was the distributor
for Meccano on the European continent. Between
1911-1913 Märklin made motors for Meccano and Hornby. During the World War Märklin only sold stock
parts, because they produced war material in Göppingen.
From 1919, Märklin produced metal
construction sets and these became as much a trademark items as their trains.
Karl Arnold GmbH & Co KG,
Nuremberg, Germany, began business in 1906 and was the developer of the ‘cradle-
flint’ which sprays sparks when the flint and wheel engage. He produced lithographed ships, tanks,
motorcycles and more. In 1935 Arnold's
son Max Ernst joined in the management and the company continued to flourish. The three Nuremberg Arnold factories were destroyed
in World War II , only the operation in Mühlhausen remained intact and from
there production began again in November 1945. The
Arnold Jeep and the Mac Motorcycles met with great success and the
company flourished. In 1960 they began
producing N-gauge railroads. The company
has since changed hands.
Gescha Toys Germany was established
in 1923 and toys marked 'Gescha' date from the 1930s. (It is worth noting that German tin toys and
other products in the pre to post WWI era were often marked Ges. Gesch. (gesetzlich geschützt)
which meant "trademark registered" in German. Confusion sometimes arises between the two
markings.) Gescha’s early products were
tin wind-up toys that were creative and moved in a variety of ways.
As with most German industries,
World War II seriously disrupted or halted business. Gescha resumed production of tin toys in the
post war late 1940s with a variety of tin and stamped toys, but by the 50’s had
begun to focus on vehicles.
Among these were a tractor and
trailer, colorful 4" buses, airplanes, tanks and cars. Their Porsche sports car is much like its Shuco
In the 1960s, Gescha entered the
diecast realm and started a few offshoot brands such as Conrad Models and
Strenco. The company specialty was cast
metal heavy equipment vehicles; road graders, front loaders, bulldozers, etc. During the 1970s the name Conrad was used more
and Gescha less. By 1980, the Gescha name was pretty much extinct.
Tipp & Co. / Tippco
Founded in 1912 and named after an early
director/employee named Miss Tipp.
Tippco’s owner, Phillip Ullman was of Jewish descent and was forced to
flee Germany in 1933. He went to England, where he founded Mettoy. He eventually returned to Germany to recover
his company after the war. Tipp’s military vehicles are among the best of the
clockwork tin toys produced in the pre-War / Wartime era and competed with the
toys of Lineol and Elastolin. Some of Tippco’s
better known pieces are it’s tanks and Hitler’s Mercedes the Fuhrerwagen.