Toy Steam Engine

Description (Brief)
This vertical engine and boiler was made by a German manufacturer during the early 20th century. The toy is possibly a Schoenner 101/2 model, made by Jean Schoenner in Nuremberg, Germany around 1905. The vertical engine has an iron base, metal firebox, boiler, and chimney. The steam powers a vertical engine shafted to a flywheel.
Live steam toys enjoyed a period of popularity from the 1880s until the 1930s. The miniature steam engines were marketed as both toys and instructive devices that mimicked full-scale steam-powered machines and allowed every boy and girl to be their own engineer. In toy steam engines, a heating source is introduced into the firebox below the boiler (early toys used lit wicks fueled by denatured alcohol, later toys used electricity) which heated the water to produce the steam pressure that ran the engine. A variety of accessories could be powered by the engine; attachments included windmills, pumps, grinders, and electric lights.
Currently not on view
Object Name
toy, steam engine and boiler
date made
20th century
overall: 9 1/2 in x 2 7/8 in; 24.13 cm x 7.3025 cm
overall: 9 7/8 in x 5 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in; 25.0825 cm x 13.97 cm x 11.43 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Engineering Steam Toys and Models
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Family & Social Life
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Engineering Steam Toys and Models
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

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