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Toy Submarine

c1910s (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This clockwork submarine was manufactured by the German maker Gebrüder Bing in Nuremberg, Germany. Although Bing, like their main competitor Marklin, are best known forproducing toy trains, they were, by the early 20th Century one of the largest toy manufacturers in the World, producing a wide range of toys, mostly in metal.

Similar products to this particular submarine appear in Bing catalogues from 1903 onwards, although it lis likely that this example was produced either just before or after the First World War. It is made from tin plate, which has been pressed and glued together, before being painted. The overall design is reminiscent of some of the earliest experimental real-life submarines made in the late 19th Century. The clockwork mechanism sits inside the submarine's hull, and can be would up by unscrewing a watertight cap on the top of the conning tower. This mechanism then turns a propellor, which moves the submarine through the water, the direction controlled by a rudder. Although some Bing submarines had aerofoils (or fins) which were controlled by the clockwork mechanism and rotated up or down to allow the submarine to alternately dive and resurface, this particular model has fixed aerofoils. As such, it is likely that it would have travelled on the surface of the water.

The Bing range of submarines varied in size from approximately 14 to 41cm in length, and this example is therefore one of the larger models that were produced. They were, in general, of a simpler design than other similar ranges produced by other manufacturers available at the time, but remained popular.








object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tinplate and brass, cut, shaped, pressed and screwed and soldered together and painted
Brief Description
Clockwork submarine, metal, painted grey and red, by Gebrüder Bing, Germany, ca. 1910s
Physical Description
A toy submarine made in metal, the majority of the hull painted grey, but the lower third, including a small keel, painted red. On the top, a small, cylindrical conning tower is placed just forward of centre, which is topped by an unpainted, watertight metal cap with bevelled edge. Also on the top, running around the conning tower and towards the bow and stern, a thin metal handrail, painted black, is soldered onto the hull, although one half has become detached completely and the other half is lose in places. A painted red line runs around the edge of the upper portion of the hull. On either side of the stern are two rounded fins, also painted grey, and a three-bladed propellor on a free-turning shaft protrudes from the underside of the bow. Also at the stern, a metal rudder, painted red, is attached to the hull by a thick metal wire running to the top and underside of the hull. A clockwork mechanism, no longer working, is housed out of sight within the hull. This is wound up by unscrewing the watertight cap on the conning tower, inserting a key (now lost) and then replacing the cap.
Dimensions
  • Maximum length: 32.5cm
  • Maximum height: 7.5cm
  • Maximum width: 6.5cm
Production typeMass produced
Marks and Inscriptions
G B / N / BAVARIA (Maker's Mark for Gebruder Bing, Nuremberg, pre 1924, the three letters are within a diamond with semi-circular corners, with Bavaria written underneath, all in black paint on the top of the hull towwards the stern.)
Object history
This submarine was manufactured by the German maker Gebrüder Bing in Nuremberg. Similar products appear in Bing catalogues from 1903 onwards, although this example is likely to have been produced either immediately before or after the First World War. The range of submarines varied in size from 14 to 41cm in length, this example therefore in the middle of the range.



This object was purchased at auction in November 2011. Details of its ownership before then are unknown.
Historical context
This type of clockwork submarine would have been played with by children in a pond or other shallow water. Although some Bing submarines had rotating aerofoils controlled by the clockwork mechanism to allow the submarine to alternately dive and resurface, this particular model has fixed aerofoils, indicating that, when would up, it travelled along the surface of the water.
Summary
This clockwork submarine was manufactured by the German maker Gebrüder Bing in Nuremberg, Germany. Although Bing, like their main competitor Marklin, are best known forproducing toy trains, they were, by the early 20th Century one of the largest toy manufacturers in the World, producing a wide range of toys, mostly in metal.



Similar products to this particular submarine appear in Bing catalogues from 1903 onwards, although it lis likely that this example was produced either just before or after the First World War. It is made from tin plate, which has been pressed and glued together, before being painted. The overall design is reminiscent of some of the earliest experimental real-life submarines made in the late 19th Century. The clockwork mechanism sits inside the submarine's hull, and can be would up by unscrewing a watertight cap on the top of the conning tower. This mechanism then turns a propellor, which moves the submarine through the water, the direction controlled by a rudder. Although some Bing submarines had aerofoils (or fins) which were controlled by the clockwork mechanism and rotated up or down to allow the submarine to alternately dive and resurface, this particular model has fixed aerofoils. As such, it is likely that it would have travelled on the surface of the water.



The Bing range of submarines varied in size from approximately 14 to 41cm in length, and this example is therefore one of the larger models that were produced. They were, in general, of a simpler design than other similar ranges produced by other manufacturers available at the time, but remained popular.













Collection
Accession Number
B.101-2011

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record createdJune 6, 2012
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