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 clown wears rough yellow cotton top and red trousers with a tasselled hat and a metal ruffle around the neck. He sits on a two-wheeled cart and holds onto reins that are attached to a mule. The two large round wheels on either side of the cart are decorated with a scene of two somersaulting clown figures emphasised by the turning wheel of the cart. The cart itself, in which the spring drive is housed, has various identifying marks on the back.
Marks: The wheels have a black ink trademark motif and the back of the cart has the legend: 'MADE IN GERMANY / ENGL - PATENT / D R PATENT/ BILD GESCH
Estimated production date 1920
Condition: Very good, minor wear to cart and the clown’s body. Two small areas of wear to rear of clown’s top (see photos). Wind-up spring drive works well.
References: Lehmann Toys. The History of E. P. Lehmann 1881-1981 Jurgen & Marianne Cieslik