c.1922 Marx, Cirko The Clown Riding Tricycle

c.1922 Marx, Cirko The Clown Riding Tricycle

The scarcity of published information about an antique toy is a good indication regarding its rarity. Cirko the Clown Riding Tricycle was one of the first clockwork toys produced by the fledgling Marx corporation around 1922.

It was the first Marx toy which used multiple jointed leg segments to achieve realistic movement and was the precursor of cycling toys for years to come. The only other example I've seen was through  Noel Barrett auctions (October, 2005, Lot 349) when one was sold as a part of a lifetime circus toy collection. I could find absolutely no information about the toy. That, in itself, is probably its most revealing attribute. I've seen one original box for it. 

The toy is heavy gauge pressed steel litho, not tinplate. Except for the large front tricycle wheel it's not embossed. This is seen only in some of the earliest Marx litho toys. The clockwork motor is not housed inside or adjacent to the figure, but is contained under the housing between the rear wheels. The distance between the motor and animated figure is greater than any other Marx toy I've seen. There is no steering and no reverse. It moves in one direction only; forward. 

The craftsmanship is one of the highest I've seen for any Marx toy. Arms and legs are in perfect proportion to the body and are accurately physiologically connected. Right and left halves line up exactly. Fold over tabs were correctly colored to blend with the surrounding surfaces.  The timing of the front wheel to make one complete revolution is in perfect sync with the position of the legs.

The smiling, yet slightly menacing looking face appears die cut with a perfectly outlined nose, mouth, and chin. The details on each side line up nearly perfectly. The figure has a wide-striped red and blue torso alternately decorated with white stars and crescent moons. The legs are animated at the hips, knees and ankles. The arms are stationary.

The archaic tricycle uses a three gear clockwork spring wound motor contained within a rectangular blue housing to power the rear wheels. The solid disc large front wheel is embossed with six spokes on each side and has a raised tire rim with remnants of its original brass plating. Lithoed on both sides of the disc, slightly off center, are several clowns with balls, plus a dog jumping through a hoop. The earliest Marx logo can also be seen. The frame and handlebars are made from an unusually heavy gauge steel ribbon.  

The simple wind-up mechanism has no brake lever. Just manually hold the rear wheels from turning while winding the motor. Set the toy down, release the wheels, and it races across the floor for a few feet. Best of all...the toy works great!

Size: 8½" long x 9" tall x 3" wide.

Sold: Oct. 2006

Price Sold: $ 860


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Subject: c.1922 Marx, Cirko The Clown Riding Tricycle

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