c.1924 GAMA, Clockwork Honey Bee in Original Box

c.1924 GAMA, Clockwork Honey Bee in Original Box

Researching the history of this unusual clockwork Honey Bee manufactured by GAMA was interesting, but difficult. I've never seen it before. It's in near mint condition complete with the original box. The wings are replacements, however everything else is original including the bulbous blue and gold abdomen. It appears to have never been played with. 

Anatomically, the toy mimics the structure of an actual honey bee with its three separate body sections (head, thorax, and abdomen all in their correct relative sizes). They were lithoed in bright gold, silver, and green with black details. The three gold mouth sections on the front of the head were also embossed. It does, however have seven legs. A real bee has six. The toy uses a seventh leg, placed in front of the head to keep it balanced. 

The head and thorax, which house the clockwork motor, are tin litho. The large abdomen is celluloid. The legs consist of rubber covering over metal rods. Although the wings have been replaced, the double holed upright support for them is original. One of the original, albeit very brittle celluloid wings was still inside the box and was used to make an exact duplicate pair. I'll include the original wing with the toy although it 'll be in two pieces. 

The Honey Bee is basically an animated vibration toy. Wind it up using the separate metal key (most likely original). The second to last pair of legs (just in front of the rear legs) rotate counterclockwise. Simultaneously the abdomen also rotates in the same direction. However it was intentionally made to turn off-center. This gives it an up and down motion at the same time it's rotating. The combined effect is very realistic. Best of all it works great!

The box is just as unusual as the toy. It has two single color printed illustrations on the main panels of bees gathering pollen and eating fruit. The endflaps are blank. It has absolutely no text, manufacturer information, or trademark to identify it. 

My Research
In addition to the box having no textual printing, the entire toy itself has very little identifying information. There are several lithoed and stamped marks. On the left thorax is the designation "D.R.P.a." which stands for Deutsches Reich Patent angemeldet (German Reich Patent pending). This is an early designation rarely seen on GAMA toys. 

On the right side of the thorax spelled out in capital letters is the word "FOREIGN". Historically, in compliance with the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 the U.S. required the name of the country of origin on every imported product. However, after WWI, goods marked with "Germany" were not in good favor. In its place importers substituted the word "FOREIGN". This was disallowed without exception in 1923 when all items had to be stamped with only their country of origin. The underside of the clockwork motor housing (centered between the legs) was, in fact, stamped with "Made in Germany". One side of the housing was also stamped with "PW" inside a circle. Most likely the motor and body were not manufactured at the same time, or by the same company. They were probably assembled as separate units right around 1924 when the Mangold company started using their GAMA logo. On this toy the GAMA logo was lithoed on the rear of the thorax just at the point where the abdomen attaches to it. GAMA altered their logo eight times between 1925 and 1974, but I couldn't find any reference to this particular version. This contributed to my decision in choosing "c.1924" as the date of manufacture, however it may be more accurate to just call it "pre-war". The incredible condition of the toy makes it look like it was post-war product.

Size: 4½" long.

Price Sold: $ 264


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Subject: c.1924 GAMA, Clockwork Honey Bee in Original Box

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