1923 GAMA, "Safety First" in Original Box

1923 GAMA,

For many years this toy was thought to have been manufactured by Distler. However, in 2010, an original catalog was found proving that it was actually produced by GAMA!

Superb example of one of the earliest German made tin litho circular clockwork toys. Called "Safety First" the name was a take-off from the popular Harold Lloyd movie "Safety Last". It predates the Marx Honeymoon Express type toys by three years and is considered THE most difficult to find toy of its type. It been part of a collection of tin toys for many years and is fresh to the market. It's in phenomenal near mint condition. Even more incredible... it comes complete with its original box!

The theme of this toy is based on a taxi traveling nonstop through a large city narrowly avoiding pedestrians, other vehicles, stoplights, and even a traffic cop. It runs through an irregular shaped oblong circle, rather than a symmetric circle. Safety First was made for British import. This accounts for the left hand drive auto's, the "bobby-style" cop, the European style arched stop lights, and the use of the word "Underground" instead of subway. 

It consists of a raised platform which is nearly square. The top of the platform includes paved sidewalks which are raised embossed with individual checkerboard markings and white curbing. Roadways are light blue. A hexagonal shaped Standard Oil petrol station houses the clockwork mechanism in the center. Each window in the station has a different scene (tires, oil, mechanic, etc.). Adjacent to the station is a red, three dimensional European petrol pump. 

In one corner stands a large mechanical cop whose right arm raises and lowers each time the limousine passes. Two identical three dimensional taxis wait in the opposite corner for the light to change (and for Underground passengers to disembark). The moving taxi passes through four sets of arched lights and past by five, two dimensional flat objects. This includes two hitchhiking women, an impatient pipe smoker waiting to cross the street, a hurried customer leaving the petrol station, and a large sign for the Underground. 

The upright panels around the base feature two extensively detailed lithographs. Two of them show the Underground with passenger stairs leading down on one end and up on the other to the train tunnels below. The remaining two panels show the throng of people leaving the Underground and trying to board two double-decker buses. They're packed with all types of people with such detail that each tells its own little story. 

The underside of the toy was lithoed solid black. Only the metal tabs and the mechanism which raises the cops arm stand out. 

The box features a full color print which accurately duplicates much of the toy. Buses, pedestrians, overhead lights, the petrol station, and even the individual two dimensional figures are shown. The top left corner shows a large cop with hand raised, shouting Safety First. The underside of the cover includes the original instructions.

The key is a Distler key (because at the time it was thought to be a Distler toy), but it's not from the same era. This type of key was produced in the 1950's, but regardless, it compliments the toy beautifully and, in itself, is difficult to find. 

The box cover including the full color print and two of the four aprons are original. The other two aprons plus the entire box bottom were expertly reproduced by Brian Anthony of Anthony Restorations. Everything right down to the old type right angle corner staples were used. Brian did an amazing job of matching the original marbled texture. I've had several collectors look at it in person and did not realize it was reproduced until I told them. 

Size: Approximately 8½" square by 3¾" tall. 

Sold: Dec. 2006

Price Sold: $ 2186


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Subject: 1923 GAMA, "Safety First" in Original Box

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