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Wind Up Toys

Wind-up mechanisms were first seen in the 15th century. They were designed by Karl Grod, a German inventor whose creations included a unique mechanical fly and eagle. In 1509, Leonardo da Vinci created a wind-up lion as a greeting for Louis XII, King of France when he visited Italy. In early times, mechanical wind-up toys were made only for royalty, as they were highly elaborate and highly expensive.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, large scale and toy-size automaton figures were created. They used wind-up motors to produce lifelike motions in carved figures, bisque dolls, and early carved or metal toys. After large-scale automatons went out of vogue, wind-up toys were created during the early stages of the 18th century throughout Germany and various regions of Europe.

During the later part of the 1800s, numerous European toy makers began creating and mass producing some of the first wind-up tin toys ever made. This eventually created a large influx into America during the Industrial Revolution, which garnered hundreds and even thousands of makers over the next 150 years of toy production history.


Quick Facts

  • A rare Marklin wind-up mechanical side-wheeler “Chicago” toy boat sold at Bertoia Auctions in November 2012 for $264,500
  • With the introduction of battery-operated toys in the ‘50s, the demise of wind-up mechanical toys was inevitable
  • René Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist built several automata figures, including a wind-up human girl. The girl automata was discovered while Descartes was on a ship to Sweden. Appalled, the ship’s captain ordered the philosopher thrown overboard

Recommended Items at Auction

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Two Marx tin lithograph wind-up tanks
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Two Marx tin lithograph wind-up tanks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $100- $150
$1106 Bids
Unique Art tin lithograph wind-up Rodeo Joe
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Unique Art tin lithograph wind-up Rodeo Joe
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$1005 Bids
Tin wind-up toy of 3 musicians
Dec 04, 9:30 AM EST
Tin wind-up toy of 3 musicians
by Rachel Davis Fine Arts
Est: $80- $150
$2255 Bids
Strauss tin lithograph wind-up boattail racer
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Strauss tin lithograph wind-up boattail racer
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $100- $150
$804 Bids
Hoge tin wind-up Cycle Car Traffic Delivery
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Hoge tin wind-up Cycle Car Traffic Delivery
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$3204 Bids
Wind Up Squirrel With Furry Tail
Dec 05, 1:00 PM CST
Wind Up Squirrel With Furry Tail
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$253 Bids
Marx wind-up Siren Fire Chief car
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Marx wind-up Siren Fire Chief car
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$503 Bids
Kingsbury tin wind-up Greyhound bus
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Kingsbury tin wind-up Greyhound bus
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$703 Bids
Marx tin lithograph wind-up Dick Tracy Squad Car
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Marx tin lithograph wind-up Dick Tracy Squad Car
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$903 Bids
Kingsbury pressed steel wind-up interurban bus
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Kingsbury pressed steel wind-up interurban bus
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$2102 Bids
Early Bird Toy
Dec 03, 5:00 PM EST
Early Bird Toy
by Dovetail Auctions, LLC
Est: $5- $500
$102 Bids
Kingsbury tin wind-up Fire Chief car
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Kingsbury tin wind-up Fire Chief car
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$1902 Bids
Gunthermann tin lithograph wind-up lady bug
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Gunthermann tin lithograph wind-up lady bug
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$402 Bids
Marx wind-up Siren Fire Chief car
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Marx wind-up Siren Fire Chief car
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$502 Bids
Kingsbury steel wind-up Parcel Delivery van
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Kingsbury steel wind-up Parcel Delivery van
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $100- $150
$902 Bids
Tonka pressed steel fire truck, with hose reel
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Tonka pressed steel fire truck, with hose reel
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $80- $120
$702 Bids
Tin Wind Up Pecking Goose, By Unique Art, Works
Dec 05, 1:00 PM CST
Tin Wind Up Pecking Goose, By Unique Art, Works
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Tin Litho Race Horse Wind Up
Dec 04, 9:00 AM PST
Tin Litho Race Horse Wind Up
by California Auction Company LLC
Est: $25- $50
$101 Bid
Small Wind Up Donkey, Swats Bee With Tail
Dec 05, 1:00 PM CST
Small Wind Up Donkey, Swats Bee With Tail
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Tin Wind Up Penquin By J. Chein
Dec 05, 1:00 PM CST
Tin Wind Up Penquin By J. Chein
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Tin Wind Up Toy With Vehicles In Round
Dec 05, 1:00 PM CST
Tin Wind Up Toy With Vehicles In Round
by Asselmeier May Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$101 Bid
Marx tin lithograph wind-up Tidy Tim
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Marx tin lithograph wind-up Tidy Tim
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$601 Bid
Three Lehman tin lithograph wind-up toys
Dec 06, 9:00 AM EST
Three Lehman tin lithograph wind-up toys
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $120- $160
$601 Bid
1930's Marx M.D. Ambulance Wind Up. 14 1/2 inches
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CST
1930's Marx M.D. Ambulance Wind Up. 14 1/2 inches
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Wind Up Toys


Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Rachel Davis Fine Arts

Rachel Davis Fine Arts