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Toy car and figures

Toy car and figures

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (Probably manufactured in Nuremberg, manufactured)

  • Date:

    c. 1937 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Tipp & Co. (manufacturer)

  • Museum number:

    B.69:1 to 5-2011

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This clockwork toy car was manufactured by Tipp & Co, a well-known German manufacturer based in Nuremberg, in the late 1930s. It was sold with four figures made from Elastolin, a composite material, and which were probably produced and then supplied to Tipp by O M Hausser, another well-known German manufacturer specialising in toy soldiers. The car is made from painted tinplate, which has been folded, shaped and fitted together using a slot and tab system. The wheels have rubber tyres. The metal clockwork mechanism is visible on the underside of the car. The main spring mechanism sits under the bonnet, and is connected to the rear wheels by gear wheels on polished metal axles. The mechanism is wound by a key which is inserted into a hole in the middle of the radiator grille. The front wheels can be moved left and right. The four figures are painted to represent Adolf Hitler and three members of the Schutzstaffel (SS) a paramilitary organisation of the German Nazi Party. They include red armbands featuring the Nazi swastika on their left arms. Hitler's right arm pivots at the shoulder, to enable him to give a Nazi salute.

The make and model of the car is the Mercedes-Benz 770 Großer Mercedes convertible, which was a luxury car first produced in 1930 and used by governments as a state vehicle. This toy version has the number plate 11A-19357, which is the same as the number plate of a full-sized version used by Hitler throughout the 1930s.

Tipp & Co. were originally a Jewish-owned company. However, members of the Ullmann family sold the company and left Germany in the early 1930s, in the face of force, threats and pseudo-legal measures which were being used to deprive Jewish people of their civil rights and wealth at the time. Philipp Ullmann and Arthur Katz, another member of the family, moved to Northampton and set up a new toy-manufacturing company, Mettoy, in 1933. This company became very successful in the 1950s and 1960s, and is best known for the Corgi range of die cast toy cars.

Although the representation of Adolf Hitler in this and many other toys of the period can be seen as propaganda for the Nazi Party, it is unclear to what extent the Nazis put pressure on toy manufacturers to produce toys of this type. It is likely that these politically-based figures were manufactured to satisfy a general demand amongst the German population caused by the political climate. This toy can also be seen as an example of the close relationship that has existed between toys and games and the real world of war and conflict, in which toy soldiers and vehicles in particular are produced to mirror actual regiments and changing technology in new theatres of war.

Place of Origin

Germany (Probably manufactured in Nuremberg, manufactured)

Date

c. 1937 (manufactured)

Artist/maker

Tipp & Co. (manufacturer)

Dimensions

Length: 23.3 cm Figures and Car assembled, Height: 8.8 cm Figures and Car assembled, Width: 9.3` cm Figures and Car assembled

Object history note

This object was produced and sold by Tipp & Co. in Germany in the 1930s. It was purchased by the V&A at auction in May 2011. The intervening history of the object is unknown.

Historical context note

This object would have been sold as a toy in the 1930s, and played with as such. Although it's representation of Adolf Hitler can be read as an incidence of propaganda, it is unclear how much official, overt encouragement on the part of the German governent for the manufacture of these politically-based figures existed at the time. It is likley that toys such as this were produced to satisfy a general demand amongst the German population caused by the political climate.

Descriptive line

Clockwork car, Adolf Hitler's Mercedes limousine, painted tinplate and rubber, with four painted plastic figures of Hitler and German soldiers, Tipp & Co, German, c 1937.

Categories

Children & Childhood; Arms & Armour; Dolls & Toys

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Museum of Childhood

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