Steam Toy Accessories Page 1
Fascinating and enjoyable as they are to watch running, a toy steam engine on its own does not a have a lot of "play value" compared to a boat or a train set. The major toy makers, particularly those in Germany, quickly recognised this and started to produce a huge variety of accessories that were designed to be driven by their engines. The range of items on offer seemed to be limited only by the toy makers imaginations and included workmen, machine tools, fairground rides, fountains and even butter churns.
British manufactures never showed as much interest as their German counterparts in making accessories to go with their engines. In the years prior the Second World War both Bowman and Mersey Models offered small ranges of machine tools but these were in fact made for them in Germany. After the war a small range of British made accessories, again mainly machine tools, became available. Most of these were sold under the Mamod, SEL and Multum brand names.
In many ways the accessories can be more colourful and interesting than the engines themselves and there are quite a number of enthusiasts who collect them for their own sake. For a good introduction to these delightful items I can recommend Shire Album No.324 "Toy Steam Accessories" by Marcus Rooks, (ISBN 0-7478-0313-7).
Around 1930 Bowman introduced a range of accessories to complement their steam engines. As well as dynamos, there were some very fine machine tools, which were made for Bowman by Doll & Cie. in Germany. The Bowman tools were very solidly made and were mounted on distinctive bases drilled to be compatible with Meccano. It believed that the bases were made in Britain by Bowman themselves
Since their earliest days Mamod have produced a small range of machine tools to be driven by their steam engines. The earliest items had flat bases and solid disk flywheels. Later, raised bases were introduced and spoked flywheels that were first made from brass and later mazak. In recent years a workshop was introduced featuring all the tools on a common base.
Signalling Equipment Ltd.
To complement their range of steam engines, sold under the S.E.L. and Merit brand names, J & L Randall Ltd. of Potters Bar, England produced an attractive range of accessories. The company made a lot of items using thermo-setting plastic (Bakelite), so not surprisingly this material was also used in the manufacture of their steam toy accessories.
The Multum range of accessories were made by, the British company, Ward and Goldstone who were primarily manufacturers of domestic electrical items. The tools were designed to operate with a small electric motor. As far as I know Ward and Goldstone never produced a steam engine. A number of the tools superficially resemble items from the SEL range, although they are not so solidly constructed.
A die cast power press made in Japan and marked AHI. It is not clear where the AHI brand name comes from, it was used by the Japanese toy manufacturer Naito Shoten, but it is also possible it could refer to Azrak-Hamway International, a toy importer and distributor in the USA.
This attractive set of workshop machine tools came complete with their original boxes. The boxes have no brand name on them; however, the tools are stamped “Made in England”. These items date from the 1940s and were unsold stock from a toy shop that closed sometime in the 1950s.
A colourful and diverse range of steam toy accessories are still produced today by the German manufacturer Wilesco. These lovely items are surely the true descendants of the massive range produced by the German toy manufacturers between about 1890 and the Second World War.