c.1895 France, Coureurs Cyclistes de Jouet Mécaniques

c.1895 France, Coureurs Cyclistes de Jouet Mécaniques

Very early French built Clockwork Toy Cycling Racers or Coureurs Cyclistes de Jouet Mécaniques. Based on the bicycle style and its composition it was probably inspired by the first bicycling races held in 1893 at the Velodrome Buffalo outside of Paris (see below) rather than the Tour de France which was held several years later. It comes complete with its original "clenched fist" key in the center. The manufacturer is unknown. It's the only toy of its kind I've seen.

The design is similar to the popular French made Mechanical Horse Racing Toy. It's also probably similar in function for use as a mechanical betting machine; that is, the player who has just passed the flag when it stops turning is the winner. 

Best of all it works beautifully!

The toy consists of three cyclists dressed in late 19th century racing attire rotating around an enclosed arena. It winds up using the clenched fist key in the center which is made of cast lead. A strong clockwork ribbon motor underneath the base provides speed and rotation. Both the front and rear tires revolve on each cyclist. The actual figures have no movement. It's precisely balanced so that once the motor runs down it continues to rotate for a long time. 

In addition to the cast lead key it's made from a combination of different materials. The cyclists are hand painted tin. The bicycle frames are cast lead. The tires are cast iron. The circular platform is tin covered with green flock. The scrolled railing and embossed circular base is painted zinc rather than tin (which is probably why it hasn't flaked off). The metal British flag and pole are professional replacements, however the small embossed "Arrived" sign soldered to it is old (but probably not original to this toy). 

The toy was previously owned for many years by Athelstan and Kathleen Spilhaus, authors of "Mechanical Toys, How Old Toys Work" published by Crown Publishers, 1989.

The Cyclist toy sold originally for 75 cents (see catalog image).

Size: 11½" diameter. Height including cyclist 5½". Bicycles 3¾"long.

Sold: Jan. 2013

Price Sold: $ 3499


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Subject: c.1895 France, Coureurs Cyclistes de Jouet Mécaniques

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