1909 Lehmann, "Am Pol" in Original Box

1909 Lehmann,

I come across a lot of "stuff" in my travels, but I couldn't believe it when I recently found this awesome and historically important toy!

The toy is called "Am Pol" and it was produced in Germany by Lehmann to commemorate the first successful expedition to the North Pole by Admiral Robert E. Peary on April 6-7, 1909. It's lithographed tinplate and has a wind-up clockwork mechanism. The toy was very successful and continued to be produced for more than 30 years. 

To quickly capitalize on America's success the Lehmann company revised one of their current toys called the "New Century Cycle". Colors were modified, lithography was changed and the American Stars and Stripes was added. However, as with many Lehmann toys "changes" prior to release of the mass produced toy were made to obtain market popularity even faster. As rare as the "Am Pol" toy is, earlier examples prior to its mass marketing are even rarer. The toy offered below is one of those super rare early pieces. 

Even more unbelievable is the condition of the toy; NEAR MINT! AND more important is the inclusion of its original box in astonishing excellent+ to near mint condition. From my research it may possibly be the highest grade example known.

As mentioned the toy "exploited" Admiral Peary's successful exploration of the North Pole. Changes in lithographic detail to the Lehmann's New Century Cycle toy included the addition of fur added to the driver and companion and modifying the appearance of the umbrella to a topical map centered on the North Pole. The primary color change included the substitution of red colored wheel spokes for brass finished found on the New Cycle toy. For some unknown reason the plan for fitting the American Flag to the top of the umbrella was scantily, or possibly never, completed.

However it's assumed that Lehmann produced a few examples of Am Pol which were different. As in this toy, the figures were not lithographed with fur, but instead it was hand painted! Secondly, the brass spoke wheels with white rims from New Century Cycle were carried over to Am Pol. The change to red spokes had not yet been made. And the American Flag was added to the top of the umbrella; using a brass finished pole and paper Stars and Stripes (with 45 stars). 

The lithographed color of the cycle's body is robin's egg blue with gold lettering. All examples in research show a dark blue body with dark gold or yellow lettering. In fact I could find no other published example of this early version except for a small black and white graphic insert on page 55 of Jürgen & Marianne Cieslik's book of Lehmann Toys. However the book does mention how Lehmann would frequently implement rapid production of a new toy by using hand painting them instead of lithography. Peripheral changes which would be difficult to mass produce possibly like the addition of a paper American Flag were also known to occur. 

Also important are the following;

  • The tiller is original to the toy. There are three hole positions to manually fit and steer the vehicle right, left, or straight ahead.
  • The brass finished key and tire wheel rims have absolutely no wear indicating that the toy was very rarely, if ever, used.
  • The underside of both the vehicle and umbrella a mirror finished polished tinplate, and most important of all

Patent information lithoed on the rear of the vehicle with "03" and "07" dates refers to patents for the clockwork mechanism, not the toy itself.

Then there's the box. It's complete with the entire bottom and lid. It's all original. Nothing has been added. The cover print showing the toy with Admiral Peary and companion with Polar Bear and Seal and vehicle topped with the American flag is 100% complete. The box also still has its original wrap around cord with original exterior Lehmann tin litho sash weight and interior tin litho string holder in place. All 90° European style corner staples and metal corner lid reinforcements are also...all in place. I could find no prior reference to a sale of an example of the original box.

[See also Lehmann "New Century Cycle"]

Size: 5" long, 8½" tall including flag and 3" wide. 

Sold: Aug. 2011

Price Sold: $ 6502


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Subject: 1909 Lehmann, "Am Pol" in Original Box

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