Between the two World Wars, Germany remained the pre-eminent toy producer but suffered the demise of some earlier manufacturers. It was at this time that a number of British and French toy producers such as Burnett, Wells, Triang, Rossignol, Citroen and Jouets de Paris, started increasing their share of the world toy market. This, together with the greater technological knowledge, allowed the toy producers to reproduce excellent representations of the full-size article.

After the Second World War, Germany’s importance as a toy producing nation was superceded by Japan, which in the 1950s took over as the world’s largest manufacturer of tinplate toys. Many of the tinplate cars that were produced were based on American models, though a varied selection of novelty toys were also produced.


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Southern Germany was the home of the first great toy producers of Europe at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The majority were centred around Bavaria, famous for its clock-making, with Nüremburg becoming the centre of the toy industry.

The first factory for the production of tin toys can be traced back to the firm of Hess in 1826, with Marklin following in 1859, Bing in 1865, Guntherman in 1877, Lehmann in 1881 and Carette in 1886. As the nineteenth century drew to a close the tin toy had become a truly wonderful plaything, with advanced toy factories producing complex train sets, stunning boats and automobiles. With ingenious devices for automatic steering, whistles, cannons and either clockwork, steam or electric motors, these tin toys were objects to be played with rather than to be looked at and consequently the vast majority were destroyed or damaged by their youthful owners.

Today, items that have survived are highly prized and their period of production to the outbreak of the First World War is known as "The Golden Age of Toys".

Britain’s great Victorian factories were not attuned to anything as flippant as toy-making, though its model railway industry was to flourish in the late 1890s with firms like Bassette-Lowke, Clyde and Stevens Model Dockyard which obviously reflected the Victorian taste for engineering, and later in the 1920s with the famous Hornby range of trains.



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