Philip Vielmetter Clown Artist

The brightly dressed Clown Artist, crank-operated, German lithographed tin toy by Philip Vielmetter sits at an easel, drawing a caricature of Queen Victoria. The clown's pencil is controlled by a double cam, a rotating irregular metal plate which forces the pencil to move along its edges. Watch a video of the Clown Artist here.

In their book, "Mechanical Toys, How Old Toys Work” Athelstan & Kathleen Spilhaus show that although Vielmetter is generally credited with inventing this toy's mechanism, he probably purchased its patent from its English creator, Joseph Walker. Both toys' cams are interchangeable.

Clown Artist was the only toy made by Vielmetter. Although not as rare as the Joseph Walker Drawing Artist it is nonetheless a scarce mechanical toy and only occasionally surfaces at auctions.

Production date: Around 1895

Condition: very good (some plating and paint losses)

References: Mechanical Toys: How Old Toys Work, Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus

The Golden Age of Toys, Jac Remise

Automata and Mechanical Toys, Mary Hillier

Mechanical Toys, Charles Bartholomew

Art of the Tin Toy, David Pressland

Collecting Tin Toys, Jack Tempest

Magic: Stage Illusions, Special Effects and Trick Photography, Albert A. Hopkins, 1898 (extract here)

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