German Toy Steam Engine

Description (Brief)
This steam toy was made by a German manufacturer during the early 20th century. The horizontal boiler has a lever-weighted safety valve, steam whistle, and steam throttle. The boiler powers a horizontal two valve engine with a cam-operated valve gear and 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
steam engine and boiler, toy
date made
early 20th century
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (base material)
flywheel-from catalog card: 5 1/4 in; x 13.335 cm
boiler-from catalog card: 7 3/8 in x 2 3/4 in; x 18.7325 cm x 6.985 cm
overall-from catalog card: 15 in x 9 3/4 in x 9 in; 38.1 cm x 24.765 cm x 22.86 cm
overall: 14 1/2 in x 8 7/8 in x 9 5/8 in; 36.83 cm x 22.5425 cm x 24.4475 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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