c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box (#2)

c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box (#2)

Outstanding example of the classic lithographic tinplate Marx Automatic Fire House complete with inserts and original box. Though this toy was probably never played with, there are two prerequisites to consider whenever you're thinking of buying one. 

1) Warped Plastic Components: Marx never intended for his toys to be around 50 or 60 years after they were built. The soft plastic used for the garage doors and overhead sign will not just warp. Over time they'll sag, twist, bend, and even break free from the metal frames holding them in place. And all that can happen at room temperature. On this toy, yes, the doors and overhead sign do exhibit some warping, but to such a slight degree that they're still the best plastic components I've seen. For one thing both doors close!! That's an achievement in itself. The right door does have a shallow twist in its upper left corner, while the left door is nearly perfect. And yes, the overhead sign does sag slightly in the center. But it has remained tabbed to the garage walls and roof and has nearly all of its original white paint. I've never seen that before.

2) Scrape on car roof: The toy works by inserting the fire chief car into the garage. This presses it against a metal ribbon which is attached to the inside roof. The garage floor is also spring hinged. The tension between the roof and floor build as you wind the exterior crank. It's this compression that, when released, ejects the car through the front doors. Great idea, but one use and you'll have a nice scrape down the center of the car. This example is nearly in mint condition with only one unrelated 2mm light scrape off to the right edge on the roof. It even has it's original roof sticker directions in place.

The rest of the toy is phenomenal. The fire chief sedan was ornately lithoed with front grille, hood emblem and ornament, 10 windows, roof and door sirens, fire chief emblem and license plate on rear trunk, head and tail lights, and of course the Marx logo. To make this toy work properly the front wheels were made wooden to reduce the friction. While the rear tires are both solid rubber to give better "grab". 

The Volunteer Fire garage is a fantastic miniature of post war life. There's guy's rolling up hose, another filling fire extinguishers, and filling powder containers to smother fires. The back wall shows a first aid training class in session. Details right down to the names of the firemen are posted on the wall. The third wall with the crank shows several volunteers cleaning and polishing their truck. The chief looks on. On the top of the building the red roof is outlined in yellow. It includes two intricately designed fire department logos featuring crossed hose nozzles in the center. It's also interesting to note that the universal sign for "the male of the species" (circle with an arrow through it) was lithoed across the entire front roof section. The garage underside was embossed with feet and lithoed with the toy' operating instructions.  

The color matching yellow and red box features a terrific illustration of the Fire Chief vehicle just as it emerges through the front doors. The long side panels show the car on the street about 10 feet from the garage. The endflaps show a frontal view of the car after it made a right hand turn. 

Size: Garage 8½" x 6" x 4". Car 7½".

Sold: Mar. 2006

Price Sold: $ 420


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Subject: c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box (#2)

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