Late 1800s Ives Wind-Up Bear With Real Fur (probably dyed rabbit fur) – A mechanical walker with key. Walks, makes mild growling noise. Head turns side-to-side. Jaw moves up and down.
Mechanical automatons have fascinated the curious for a very long time. In the 20th century toy wind-ups became a mainstay in popular culture. Most weren’t as elaborate as the Ives bear pictured above, but a lot of them were pretty neat. Below are a selection of some stand-out examples.
A Scarce 1903 Lehmann Captain of Kopenick Wind-Up – Depicts the true story of an infamous cobbler who stole the town of Kopenick, Germany’s money while dressed as an army officer. When wound the Captain rocks back and forth.
German Early 1900s Snookums Wind-Up – A character toy from early George McManus newspaper comic strips Their Only Child. Snookums is very hyperactive, when she’s wound she shakes about frantically.
Foxy Grandpa Wind-Up, c. 1910 – This is a scarce early version of the Foxy Grandpa wind-up. His weighted feet have a clockwork-like mechanism enabling him to walk.
Toonerville Trolley The Powerful Katrinka German Wind-Up, 1923 (Fontaine Fox) – When wound, Katrinka pushes the wheelbarrow carrying little Jimmy forward, stopping every so often to lift up the wheelbarrow before continuing on.
Happy Hooligan/Buster Brown-Like Mechanical Toy, c. 1920 (German) – This is a spring loaded toy. The main figure bears a resemblance to Happy Hooligan. When he is cocked and released, the hammer hits the anvil, yellow slide shoots up column to hit character at top who bears a strong resemblance to Buster Brown. When this character is hit, the ring in his hand flips to opposite side.
Marx New York Wind-Up Box
1928 Marx New York Tin Litho Wind-Up – The plane circles around the skyline in the center. The train circles the outer ring of the base, going through three tunnels in buildings, one w/ a clock tower at top. The train is headed by a steam locomotive and moves in conjunction w/ plane.
When wound, Bonzo’s separate tin litho eyes and jaw move up and down, giving the toy the illusion of blinking and speaking.
Bonzo Animated Wind-Up Toy, 1930s (Germany) – When wound, Bonzo wobbles around.
Jitter-Bug Wind-Up Dancing Toy, 1930s (Chime Toy Products) – When wound these stylish figures move up and down as if dancing the 1930s classic.
Bestmade Mechanical Marionette Theater Wind-Up, 1930s by Kuramochi, Japan – When wound the base rocks back and forth as figures move about.
Pango-Pango African Dance Wind-Up, 1950s (T.P.S. Japan) – When wound Pango-Pango dances and his head bobs up and down.
Comical Clara Wind-Up, 1960s (T.P.S., Japan) – Clara is all 60s and weird. When she’s wound up her entire body shakes side to side as it moves around and her separate tin eyes move in and out of the eye socket openings so when eyes are fully extended, Clara has quite an unusual appearance.
The last wind-up for this post doesn’t do much – he just looks cool. He’s a clown manufactured by J. Chein & Co. (USA) (n.d.) – He just walks and wobbles.