German Toy Steam Engine

Description (Brief)
This horizontal toy steam engine was manufactured by an unknown German company during the early 20th century. The horizontal brass boiler with chimney sits on an iron metal firebox. The slide-valve engine is attached to a crankshaft and linked to a gearing that is connected to the flywheel. The engine has a decorative flyball governor.
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
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
tinplate (castings material)
iron (castings material)
chrome plated (fittings material)
boiler, externally fired - from catalog card: 11 1/2 in x 4 in; x 29.21 cm x 10.16 cm
cast iron flywheel - from catalog card: 4 in; x 10.16 cm
overall - from catalog card: 14 in; 35.56 cm
cylinder, top of boiler - from catalog card: 3/4 in x 1/2 in; 1.905 cm x 1.27 cm
overall: 13 7/8 in x 5 7/8 in x 12 3/8 in; 35.2425 cm x 14.9225 cm x 31.4325 cm
place made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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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
Gift of Mr. August Mencken

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