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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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MARX TIN WINDUP SPARKLING POP UP SOLDIER TANK
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
MARX TIN WINDUP SPARKLING POP UP SOLDIER TANK
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$804 Bids
MARX TIN WINDUP DOUGHBOY TANK
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
MARX TIN WINDUP DOUGHBOY TANK
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$804 Bids
Marx Be-Bop Jiven Jigger with Box
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Marx Be-Bop Jiven Jigger with Box
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $150- $250
$954 Bids
Lot of (2) TPS Wind Ups
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Lot of (2) TPS Wind Ups
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$1004 Bids
LOUIS MARX POLICE SIREN SQUAD TOY MOTORCYCLE WIND UP
Mar 18, 6:00 PM CDT
LOUIS MARX POLICE SIREN SQUAD TOY MOTORCYCLE WIND UP
by Millers Auction Co.
Est: $0- $0
$303 Bids
Group of 2 Vintage Marx Wind-Up Tin Litho Tractors
Feb 24, 9:00 AM CST
Group of 2 Vintage Marx Wind-Up Tin Litho Tractors
by Matthew Bullock Auctioneers
Est: $30- $300
$253 Bids
TIN WINDUP JOCKEY ON RACE HORSE
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
TIN WINDUP JOCKEY ON RACE HORSE
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$903 Bids
MARX TIN WINDUP DOUGHBOY TANK
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
MARX TIN WINDUP DOUGHBOY TANK
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$903 Bids
Wind up walking robot
Feb 22, 10:00 AM EST
Wind up walking robot
by Stout Auctions Toy and Train Specialists
Est: $20- $50
$303 Bids
MARX TIN WINDUP ARMY TANK CORPS TANK NO. 12
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
MARX TIN WINDUP ARMY TANK CORPS TANK NO. 12
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
2- MARX TIN WINDUP TURN OVER TANKS
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
2- MARX TIN WINDUP TURN OVER TANKS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $250
$602 Bids
JAPAN TIN FRICTION ECENTRIC TANK
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
JAPAN TIN FRICTION ECENTRIC TANK
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
JAPAN WINDUP CELLULOID POPEYE w/ BOX
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
JAPAN WINDUP CELLULOID POPEYE w/ BOX
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1102 Bids
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JAPANESE MONKEY WIND UP TOY - 1 HAND REPLACED - GOES WELL & DANCING COUPLE (OVER WOUND)
Feb 22, 9:00 AM AEST
JAPANESE MONKEY WIND UP TOY - 1 HAND REPLACED - GOES WELL & DANCING COUPLE (OVER WOUND)
by Albion Antique Auction Centre
Est: AUD10- AUD40
AUD102 Bids
Marx Tin Litho Windup Jumpin Jeep
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Marx Tin Litho Windup Jumpin Jeep
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $75- $150
$452 Bids
Boxed & Unboxed Marx Sparkling Tanks
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Boxed & Unboxed Marx Sparkling Tanks
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$552 Bids
Chein Wind Up Tin Alligator with Native
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Chein Wind Up Tin Alligator with Native
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $150- $300
$602 Bids
Marx Amos & Andy Fresh Air Taxi w/Partial Box
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Marx Amos & Andy Fresh Air Taxi w/Partial Box
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1602 Bids
UNIQUE ART TIN WINDUP HOBO TRAIN
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
UNIQUE ART TIN WINDUP HOBO TRAIN
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$602 Bids
UNIQUE ART TIN WINDUP LIL ABNER BAND
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
UNIQUE ART TIN WINDUP LIL ABNER BAND
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1102 Bids
Tin Litho Nylint Delivery Motorcycle Cart
Feb 21, 10:00 AM EST
Tin Litho Nylint Delivery Motorcycle Cart
by Weiss Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$852 Bids
BREVETTATO WINDUP MUSICAL CAR
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
BREVETTATO WINDUP MUSICAL CAR
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1002 Bids
2- JAPAN TIN WINDUP STOCK CARS
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
2- JAPAN TIN WINDUP STOCK CARS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$501 Bid
LOT OF TIN TOYS
Feb 24, 10:00 AM EST
LOT OF TIN TOYS
by Milestone Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1001 Bid

Sellers Who Sell Wind Up Toys


Milestone Auctions

Milestone Auctions

Weiss Auctions

Weiss Auctions

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Matthew Bullock Auctioneers

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC

Chupp Auctions & Real Estate, LLC