Made in France c.1870, a fantastic sand powered toy which has managed to survive the passage of time and still works well.
Here is a fantastic video detailing the many rare items which were auctioned by Noel Barrett a few years ago from the George Seidman collection of European Tin Toys. The video clearly demonstrates the clever actions of these rare Wind-Up Toys.
Following the second world war, Karl Arnold was under American control,
and their toys were stamped with "Made in US Zone Germany." The 1950s
version of the motorbike featured a civilian rider, sans helmet, with an
expression that suggests he's bracing himself against the wind. When
wound it has a clever progressive action. At first Mac remains seated on
the bike with the engine running, then he gets off and stands beside
it. He then remounts and rides in a circle, stops to dismount, stands
beside the bike before getting back on and riding off again.
A clockwork tin toy by Fernand Martin, the “Mysterious Ball” was inspired by a real-life act (La Sphere Mysterieuse) performed by Leon LaRoche on a 30-foot spiral track at the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1905. Martin toys are very rare and this is certainly the most complex toy produced by Martin. The toy works well and when the string in pulled, the ball rolls down the spiral to the bottom. The string is then released and the ball slowly travels back up the spiral to the top where it opens to reveal the performer inside. This is a unique and complex action, especially for a 106 year old toy.
The toy clown driving a mule called 'Balky Mule' is one of the most well-known toys made by E.P. Lehmann founded in 1881 in Brandenburg, near Berlin, Germany. Powered by a wind-up spring drive the Balky Mule bucks its back legs while the clown's head and body jerk back and forward. As the advertising of the time stated “A unique toy that gives indescribable delight to children. Donkey bucks and gallops forward and backward, the clown makes frantic efforts...”
The video also features many ornate Optical Toys from George Seidman's son Larry.