This toy steam engine was made by an unknown German manufacturer during the early 20th century. The horizontal steam boiler powers a flywheel which is connected to a dynamo that can power the attached bulb. The boiler, flywheel, dynamo, and light bulb are all attached to the wooden base.
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.
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.