c.1947 Johann Hofler No 400 Tower Railway In Original Box

c.1947 Johann Hofler No 400 Tower Railway In Original Box

Never assembled clockwork tin litho Tower Railway manufactured by Johann Hofler, Germany (U.S. Zone). Unusual toy comes complete with every one of its original 20 pieces, plus original die cast metal key, paper wrappings, and instruction sheet. Best of all it includes the original early post-war box with cover print.

Toy is characterized by its double circular loop, wooden tower, and its clockwork wind-up rail car which reverses direction automatically. The position of two brackets protruding underneath the car changes its direction, forward or reverse. Both ends of the track have a small red metal separator. You can see one of these in the first photo at the highest point of the track. The second is hidden inside the red roof tin station at the bottom. Hofler calls them "punched sleepers". The sleepers strike the bracket underneath the car to change its direction. Very clever and very neat.

The set came disassembled and the instructions were written in "very" broken English. Actually the graphics on the box helped more to put it together. The 5" tall green wooden stand has nine precisely positioned holes to fit nine metal rods. Tracks assemble in a downwards spiral using the rods as supports. Three A-shaped metal stands brace up the track.

The trick is getting the loops to lie exactly at the correct height for the car to pass. Also since it's one of the older Hofler toys there is no start stop switch. Once its wound, hold the wheels to keep them from spinning. The track surfaces are smooth so it travels down easier than it climbs up. This is not going to be a toy that you'll run over and over, but even with all these things I got it to work. Thankfully the motor is strong and works great.

Both the rail car and station are marked "Made in U.S. Zone Germany". The station wall facing the loops includes the Hofler trademark lithoed between the two center windows. It also has an unusually long, narrow die cast key measuring over 1¼" long. It's marked with a raised, encircled "PR" which I've never seen before.

The box is an old style, two piece, narrow walled pressed cardboard. Corners are held in place with right-angled staples. The cover features a full color illustration of the toy in an imaginary setting with groups of large red speckled mushrooms. The only marking is the JH shamrock in the upper left corner.

The instruction is double sided and bilingual. Printed at the bottom is a list of box contents which were crucial in insuring the completeness of the toy. The two manila paper wrappings held the rods and rail car. It's easy to tell what they held from their shape (rods and rail car).

Size: Assembled 20½" x 12" x 5". Rail car 2-3 4"

Date Sold: Feb. 2008

Price Sold: $ 987


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