In the early 19th century, pedlars and street traders sold cheap toys carved from a single piece of wood, mainly produced by rural craftsmen or in small backstreet factories and sweatshops. In the late 19th century these toys were replaced by even cheaper toys stamped out of tinplate and die cast which were exported from Germany. Many of the toys were clockwork and were developed as a sideline of watchmaking. They were originally made in the 1830s for the amusement of adults.

Much of the metal toys trade was based in Nürnberg and companies such as Bing and Issmayer began production there in the 1860s.

There were three main methods of printing designs onto tinplate:

The range of tinplate toys was varied and included penny toys as well as more expensive lithographed die-cast models and tin cars.

Updated: 6 November 2019

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Comments (8)
Lorraine - November 5, 2019
I have a pre war tin? miniature set of gardening tools including a trike a deck chair and a garden roller. No manufacturers mark. 9 pieces in total. Would you know how much they would sell for?
Very difficult to tell... I guess there are not many collectors specialising in miniature toy tools (or maybe doll house collectors?) I saw a set on eBay USA for about 200 USD, with original packaging.
Anita - October 3, 2019
would like to know when u made a childs rail riding toy. its all original iron and perfect condition. never restored. it has your stamp on the seat, what yr would this have been? any idea of the value?
Hi Anita, not sure which manufacturer you're talking about :-)
Barry - August 21, 2019
I have a vintage 50's tin bus with driver and center spindle, battery operated. Looking for original images and parts as I'd like to restore.
Hi Barry, not sure what you have. Do you have a manufacturer or brand logo?
Julie - April 22, 2018
I have a tin friction mouse that belonged to my father-in-law. It is gray in color and is in pristine condition. He got it in Germany during WWII. It is German and marked DRGM. I would like to know more about it and who made it. If I could send a photo, I'd do so, but I don't have a link. Thank you so much for any info you can give me.
Hi Julie, your mouse has a value of approx. 30-50 USD. Not sure who made it, did you have a look at the drgm page?
Carolyn - April 2, 2018
I’m looking for replacement arms and banjo for ham and Sam tin toy from 1921.
That won't be easy... Some companies make new parts, but finding original parts is very hard. Take a look at my Ferdinand Strauss toy page (I assume you have a Ferdinand Strauss toy), maybe you can find some parts there.
Paula - July 30, 2017
got a tin watering can with mickey an Minnie mouse on it, its red, with yellow flower decorations. a simaler one is in the national trust museum. any info?
You mean this one? They can fetch 100-200 USD. Here is another can.
Darbyreid - June 11, 2017
Has anyone got any information about the Animate Toy Cmpany? They were supposedly a small NYC based company in the early 1900's. I have a wind up fish I'd like to find out more about and can't find any information
Animate Toy Co. was probably established around 1915 and ceased production in the 1930s. That's all I know...
Staci - September 14, 2011
my mom has a wind-up, tin elephant holding a globe. how can I help her find out if it's worth anything?
Try and search for it in Google images