c.1930 Distler Clockwork Tinplate Red Cross Ambulance

c.1930 Distler Clockwork Tinplate Red Cross Ambulance

Finely detailed tinplate Red Cross ambulance purchased from the estate of the original owner! Despite the few tiny litho chips on the rear right roof edge it had been stored since new and was never played with. 

It was manufactured by Distler, but like so many of their toys it was not marked. It was however stamped "Germany" in a circular pattern into the chassis. The rear door was also marked "FOREIGN" in capitalized letters. This fulfilled an 1893 law which required certain products imported into the U.S. to be marked "FOREIGN". After 1923 another U.S. law required imported products have a "complete" mark of origin (i.e. Germany). The "Foreign" requirement was dropped in 1933. This information approximately dated its manufacture.

The toy is an unusual tinplate combination of lithographed tin (car body, rear door, and wheels) and polished tin (chassis, running boards, fenders, front grille, motor housing, and headlights). The "silver" parts are not chrome plated, but highly polished tin. It's important to note that after 80+ years polished tin is almost always dulled, flaked, or even rusted due to the detrimental effect of aged natural hand oils. Since it wasn't handled it still retains its original brilliant silver surfaces.

It was elegantly lithoed with two die cut doors, two lithoed doors, two long side windows, and two rear door windows. Dark brown was used to define the outline of the doors and windows as well as the hood louvers. Dark green lines were used to delineate additional details. The internationally recognized Red Cross symbol was lithoed onto the sides and rear door. A large litho of the Red Cross Symbol was also included on the roof to indicate to aircraft flying overhead that it was not a military vehicle. The rear door does not open.

The wheels are solid; made from two compressed disks. Scrap metal from another toy was used for the inside disk on the front two wheel. You can still see some of the litho detail. Because it remained unplayed with and stored for so long small bits of newspaper stuck to the rear wheels.

The clockwork motor runs great and uses a separate key. I've provided a key from the same era of which the toy was made.

Size: 3¾" (95mm).

Date Sold: Aug. 2009

Price Sold: $ 199


Send Comments

Email Address:
Confirm Email Address:
Subject: c.1930 Distler Clockwork Tinplate Red Cross Ambulance

security code