Steam Powered Toys & Live Steam Models

Steam was used to power toys as an alternative to clockwork from the 19th century. By the mid 20th century it was largely replaced by electric or battery power. Steam powered toys are a keen collecting area for enthusiasts and some still build new models from scratch.

There are three main areas of interest. Firstly stationary toys made for children. Secondly moving steam powered models like trains and boats. However probably the most popular are the
demonstration models showing how different machines work. Larger models will always fetch a premium especially, if they are well engineered, particularly large demonstration models or trains
that could actually be ridden on.

Specialist Valuer Mr John Morgan with a 3 inch Scale Live Steam Model of An W.M. Allchin Traction Engine 'Mary'. Sold - £4,200
Specialist Valuer Mr John Morgan with a 3 inch Scale Live Steam Model of An W.M. Allchin Traction Engine ‘Mary’. Sold – £4,200

Generally the more sophisticated the mechanics the more desirable and hence the more valuable the model. The mechanics of the steam power was often very simple in the toys made for children.
This was usually with steam driving a flywheel that is attached to other parts with a belt, thus producing movement. Examples could be people working, playing or dancing, windmills, wells and
other novelty items. Far more complicated and true to life were the steam engines in the demonstration models, with some highly intricate and detailed designs.

A pair of 3.5 inch Gauge Live Steam Gresley A4 & A3 Locomotives
A pair of 3.5 inch Gauge Live Steam Gresley A4 & A3 Locomotives

Examples still containing original burners and other components are more desirable to collectors, but damage from both water and oil can be very common and will reduce value. Steam power was used by most of the main tinplate toy manufacturers, such as German makers Bing, Marklin and Wilesco, English manufacturer Mamod and American maker Jenson.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website