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Doll et Cie.

Doll et Cie. logo


Doll et Cie. Stationary brass steam engine model with vertical boiler and single flywheel on platform base Doll et Cie. was founded in Nüremburg, Germany in 1898 by John Sondheim and tinsmith Peter Doll. During the company’s early years, production concentrated on stationary steam engines and accessories. These steam toys were widely distributed throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Toy steam engines were made by multiple manufacturers from the 1880's to the 1960's and although marketed as a children's toy they were in effect expensive, ornate and complex to operate. Their role was specifically an educational one as they illustrated the then current operating mechanisms of full-size steam machinery which drove everything from mills to factories, pumping stations to collieries. Before the advent of film, video and more recently the computer, the model engine provided an opportunity to physically show how steam engines worked. The golden age for model toy steam engines was from about 1890 to 1930 when toys of a didactic nature, like operating machinery and construction toys such as Meccano, were popular choices for parents to purchase for their children. Many boys chose vocations in engineering or developed a lifelong interest in engineering after exposure to model engines and Meccano in childhood. It is estimated that over five million model steam engines were made with most of the live steam engines built in the Nüremburg area of Germany. This area not only became a center for precision machinery and metal work but also for toy making. As well as the Doll company there were seven other major toy engine manufactures who had their factories in the Nüremburg area including Carette, Falk, Krauss Mohr, Märklin, Plank and Schöenner.

Doll et Cie. Tinplate 0-4-0 Loco and 4-wheel tender in 'O' gauge 3-rail electric with Baggage Car, 1st Class Coach and 2nd Class Coach

Inspired by the industrial inventions of the late 19th century the company started producing a few clockwork novelty toys. An interesting product line developed in the early 1900's by Doll et Cie were elaborate animated hand painted tinplate ferris wheels. These were powered either by a clockwork mechanism, hand cranks, or could be steam driven using belts and a stationary steam engine. Another interesting item was a painted tin elevator tower with an embossed shingled roof and gilt flag. It was modelled after the operating elevators of the Eiffel Tower first unveiled at the 1889 Worlds Fair in Paris. The toy was very animated with tin spectator cars that moved up and down the tower shaft on metal rods when a handle on the side was turned. Max Bein, who was Sondheim's nephew, joined the company in 1911, just before the outbreak of the First World War as a third partner. During the war Max Bein administered a field hospital, for which he was awarded an Iron Cross medal. After World War I, Max Bein returned and in the Doll et Cie. steam driven lorry 1920's and into the 1930's, the production of steam engines continued together with that of trains, an operating miniature steam roller, a steam tractor, a miniature steam powered touring car and a lorry.

In about 1927 a former Bing company toy expert named Reichel joined the firm and some clockwork novelty toys and trains were added. The trains were fitted with electric motors and designed to run on 'O' gauge 3-rail track. Most of the trains were modelled after European prototypes, but a few were designed based on the trains that operated on American railroads. Eventually Max Bein took over operations.

Doll et Cie. Tinplate 4-4-0 Loco and 4-wheel tender in 'O' gauge 3-rail electric The company had a change of ownership in the late 1930's when another Nüremburg company named Fleischmann took it over. Max Bein and his family were Jewish and thus were being victimized by the Nazi regime, and the Aryanization laws, which would not allow formal business arrangements to be undertaken with Jews. The Bein family held out longer than most Jewish owned businesses, but finally sold out in 1938 to Fleischmann. Curiously enough, the Fleischmann family was also of Jewish origins, but had managed to obtain an 'Aryan' certificate, whereas Doll did not. During this time, there were roughly 250 employees in the firm. The transfer of assets was made largely on the faith that they would be returned to the Bein family if and when the Nazi regime had left power. The Doll name was retained and used by Fleischmann until the post-war period (1949). Max Bein, along with his wife Erna and daughters Elspeth and Inge managed to escape Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust, winding up in the United States, and settling in the Boston area. After the war, Fleischmann offered to return the company back to the original owners, but they declined, accepting a buyout of their shares instead.

Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge electric passenger set with steam loco, tender, baggage car, pullman, track and transformer circa 1930

Tinplate toy trains made by Doll et Cie. in the early part of the 20th century are very rare, and typically sell for high prices at auction when they do come on the market. Trains made by Doll et Cie. are easily identifiable by the trademark which consisted of the initials 'DC' intertwined.

Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge 0-4-0 Electric loco Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge 0-4-0 Electric Rail Car Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge 0-4-0 Electric loco for 3 rail track

Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge Lowen Brau bier wagon circa 1930's Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge 1930's Nordsee Fish wagon Doll et Cie. 1 gauge 0-4-0 Electric loco for 3 rail track with a 20 volt motor, lithographed in black, 2 headlights circa 1930

Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge closed freight van 5/564 Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge open freight wagon 5/565 Doll et Cie Pre-war 'O' gauge tank wagon 5/566 Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge closed freight van 5/567

Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge 0-4-0 Electric powered Steam Outline loco Doll et Cie. 'O' gauge steam outline Loco and tender #501

Doll et Cie Pre-war 'O' gauge Hand Painted Electrified Tinplate Station
Doll et Cie. Tinplate station circa 1928 Doll et Cie. tinplate Switch tower

Doll et Cie. Tinplate Railway Gantry Bridge Travelling Crane Toy circa 1930 Doll et Cie. 1 Gauge Litho Pass Waiting Platform

Doll et Cie. Tinplate Railway 'O' gauge passenger set circa 1937 in illustrated box

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