Ernst Plank Hot-Air Engine Toy

Description (Brief)
The Ernst Plank Company of Nuremberg, Germany manufactured this hot air engine around 1900. The engine is not a steam engine, as no water is heated. Instead the firebox heats air which expands and moves a piston to create useful mechanical work. The toy consists of a fire box to hear the air, with a piston powering a flywheel that is connected to a line shaft with three pulleys. The engine is very similar to the kind that ran the Praxinoscope toy made by Plank during the early 20th century.
Ernst Plank founded his company in Nuremburg, Germany in 1866. The company was well known for manufacturing a variety of metal toys like steam locomotives, stationary steam engines, early photography equipment, and magic lanterns until its dissolution in 1935.
Currently not on view
Object Name
hot-air engine, toy
date made
ca 1900
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
wood (base material)
base - from catalog card: 8 3/4 in x 4 in; x 22.225 cm x 10.16 cm
flywheel - from catalog card: 2 1/4 in; x 5.715 cm
overall: 5 7/8 in x 4 1/8 in x 8 3/4 in; 14.9225 cm x 10.4775 cm x 22.225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Engineering Steam Toys and Models
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Bequest of the Estate of Greville I. Bathe
maker referenced
Maass, Eleanor A.. Greville Bathe's "Theatre of Machines": The Evolution of a Scholar and His Collection
Additional Media

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