c. 1921 Max Moschkowitz (Germany), Clockwork “Toboggan” with Original Cars

c. 1921 Max Moschkowitz (Germany), Clockwork “Toboggan” with Original Cars

Fantastic toy and one of the earliest “roller coaster” amusement park toys I’ve ever seen. Simply called Toboggan it was manufactured by Max Moschkowitz, a small German company located in Nuremburg. It comes complete with all three original “cars” and it does work. It was produced approximately 6 years before the famous Coney Island Cyclone was even built!

Despite a lot of research I found little historical information about the company. They began producing small tinplate toys in 1919 and established a separate export division in England in 1929. They introduced their double-M trademark (see below) in 1921 which helps date the toy.  Their production of complex clockwork toys ceased several years prior to WWII. The company started again in 1948 when they introduced plastic into many of their toys. The factory closed in 1971.

The toy is made of heavy gauge tinplate and consists of a concentric triple spiral tower with roof, a return looping track, and an enclosed 14” upgrade incline.  â€œToboggan” is lithoed on the entire length on both sides of the incline.

A separately housed clockwork motor rotates a 28” long steel chain which circulates through a slot that runs underneath the entire length of the incline.  A metal bracket spaced every 6” on the chain grabs the underside of each car and hauls them to the top. The incline is enclosed to keep the car from slipping off the bracket. As the chain continues turning it releases the car, which runs down the swirling track, through the return loop and back into position to be scooped up again.

Additional points of interest include the following:

  • An intricately lithographed  3” tall, 3-dimensional calliope is located underneath the incline. It serves no function other than “looking great” (possibly a counter-balance). It’s hollow.
  • The base has some of the most detailed lithography I’ve seen on a tinplate toy. Yellow, blue, red, and green shapes are symmetrically laid out in an oval pattern. The trademark is located underneath the return loop on one of the short ends of the base. The opposite end is lithoed with “Made in Germany”.
  • It has two sets of gears with an attached key. One set of gears provides the power. The second incorporates the pulley system which rotates the chain.
  • Each car has only a single rider; a small 3-dimensional girl complete with hair bow and polka dot dress seated inside a silver colored car. Die cast lead wheels angled slightly to the left help negotiate the sharp curves.

As I mentioned it does work. However although it looks great it was actually not very well designed. For example the pulley at the top of the incline must be in precise position to remain turning, yet be able to allow the chain to clear the spiral just below it (which it frequently does not), while simultaneously lining up with a separate axle and gear at the bottom of the incline (which it also frequently does not) and still be able to rotate the chain. All of these conditions are nearly impossible to achieve concurrently. Keep in mind that this doesn't have anything to do with the condition of the toy. It's inherent in the design. Yet despite this I was still able to run one complete cycle with all 3 cars, plus part of a second cycle. Considering its age, rarity, and of course the design.... I was very happy with its performance.

Size: 15” tall. Base 4¾” x 12½”. 

Sold: Jul. 2012

Price Sold: $ 3200


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Subject: c. 1921 Max Moschkowitz (Germany), Clockwork “Toboggan” with Original Cars

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