c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box

c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box

Outstanding example of the classic lithographic tinplate Marx Automatic Fire House complete with original box. This particular example is one of the nicest I've seen. Conservatively it falls between excellent+ to near mint. Looks like it was used two or three times and then stored. 

There's two points to consider for this type of toy. 

1) Warped Plastic Components- The soft plastic used for the garage doors and overhead sign were never intended to last 50 or 60 years. Over time they can sag, twist, bend, and even pull away from the metal frames holding them in place. These things can occur even when stored at room temperature. In this case the doors and overhead sign do exhibit some warping, but to much less of a degree than typically found. The doors swing open and close easily without any binding or sticking. The hinges are still precisely in place. There is a narrow sliver of open space where the two doors meet. It's slightly wider at the base and narrows to hairline opening. The overhead sign has sagged slightly in the center, but is still securely tabbed to the garage's metal frame and has nearly all of its original white paint. 

2) Scrapes on car roof - The toy works by inserting the car into the garage and closing the doors. This presses it against a metal ribbon which is attached to the inside roof. The garage floor is also spring hinged. The tension between the roof and floor build as you wind the exterior crank. It's this compression that, when released, ejects the car through the front doors. Great idea, but after only a few uses and you'll have a nice set of scrapes running down the center of the car. This example was used. It even has it's original roof sticker directions in place. A few tiny nicks can be found just in front of the first roof headlight, tiny hairlines (seen only when tilted) just behind the roof sticker, three more easily seen hairlines over the right rear roof headlight, and two tiny nicks on the rear windshield just above the "IE" in the word Chief. The roof sticker also has some edge nicks, soiling and a tiny perforation near the center.  

The fire chief sedan was ornately lithoed with front grille, hood emblem and ornament, 10 windows, roof and door sirens, fire chief emblem and license plate on rear trunk, head and tail lights, and of course the Marx logo. To make this toy work properly the front wheels were made out of wood, while the rear set are rubber. This reduces friction in front while providing more "grab" in the back. 

The garage was lithoed with terrific images of post war life. It shows a guy rolling up hose, another filling fire extinguishers, and another filling powder containers to smother fires.The wall on the opposite side shows several volunteers cleaning the truck. The chief looks on. The back wall shows a first aid training class in session. Details right down to the names of the firemen are posted on the wall. Wide yellow stripes divide the angled roof into four sections. The side sections have an intricate fire department logo with crossed emergency horns in the center. The rear section includes some ad text and a note that instructions are on the bottom. It's curious that the section near the front doors was lithoed with the universal sign for "the male of the species" (circle with an arrow through it). The garage underside was embossed with corner feet and lithoed with the toys operating instructions. 

The box colors match the toy. The front and back have a full panel illustration of the Chief's vehicle just as it emerges through the front doors. The long side panels show the car on the street just in front of the garage with a puff of exhaust. The endflaps have a frontal view of the car after it made a right hand turn out of the doors. 

Size: Garage 8½" x 6" x 4". Car 7½".

Sold: Dec. 2008

Price Sold: $ 236


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Subject: c.1949 Marx, Automatic Fire House in Original Box

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