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Schöenner Trains

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Schöenner live steam locomotive circa 1895 Schöenner toy magic lantern from 1890 Schöenner is a relatively obscure German toy company. The firm was started by Jean Schöenner in 1875 in Nüremberg, with the production of magic lanterns and steam engines. Schöenner also made floor toy versions of trains in multiple gauges from approximately 'O' gauge up to a 29” model.

Jean Schöenner started out as an apprentice with the famous electrician, Sigmund Schuckert, who later joined with Siemens to form the world-wide known firm Siemens-Schuckert-Werke. After having worked on several other jobs, Schöenner started his company with three craftsmen and a glass-painter, (for painting the glass slides of the laternae magicae).

In 1887 the firm marketed their first toy train, a clockwork driven model. All Schöenner clockwork models were fitted with speed governors, which was a mechanism that was not generally found in other manufacturers' clockwork trains until the early 20th century. The finer models were inspired by German prototypes of the epoch and were by far better proportioned than any other make of that era. They were built in 0, 1 and 2 gauges. Early versions had no reversing gear, but this feature was added in 1902.

Schöenner American Passenger Set includes early American style 4-4-0 locomotive with four-wheel tender and eight-wheel passenger coach. All hand painted. Circa 1902. Live steam spirit fired. Later in 1887, steam driven spirit fired model trains were also made. The designs evolved over time from crude styles to prototypical models. Details such as nickel sand domes, buffers, headlamps, bells and whistles were added. A forward and reversing gearing mechanism was also developed. A complete set consisting of a steam-powered locomotive with carriages and track was offered in two gauges: 65 and 115 mm (2.5 inches and 4.5 inches). In 1891 the factory was destroyed by a fire and had to be rebuilt. On January 3, 1899 Jean Schöenner was awarded a German patent for a water level indicator for toy steam boilers (Wasserstandsanzeiger für Spielzeug-Dampfkessel). In 1900, Schöenner built the first locomotive modelled after a German prototype in 75mm and 85mm (3 inches and 3.3 inches). Many of the trains Schöenner manufactured were modelled after Schöenner early floor train circa 1884-90 27 inches American prototypes. The 4-4-0 model introduced in 1902 was specially advertised as an "American locomotive", indicating that Schöenner expected to have a big market in the United States. However, the only features which justify this designation were the pilot and bell both also fitted to the 4-wheel engines to be sold in the USA. Otherwise, these "American" models were the same as the standard ones made for the European market. Many of Schöenner's steam locomotives were made with non-swiveling trucks which limited operation to straight tracks only or on the floor without tracks.

Schöenner built mostly steam toys from 1890 to 1910. In addition to the trains, a selection of boats and fire engines were also made. Toy production reached over 300,000 units by 1892. This was a notable achievement. By 1894 the company employed 250 workers. Schöenner products can be identified by embossed trademarks with either the initials 'SN' or 'JS'.

Schöenner gauge IV live steam locomotive and coach

Schöenner gauge III live steam Locomotive painted tin American steam outline 2-2-4 Adolf Dihlmann became a partner in the firm in 1891. It is believed this was as a result of the fire that destroyed the factory tools and necessitated investment in order to restart production. The name of the company was changed to Jean Schöenner Mechanischoptische Spielwarenfabrik - Inhaber: Jean Schöenner & Adolf Dihlmann. Dihlmann's contribution played a large part in the further successful development of the company. The company was later renamed to Nürnberger Mechanischoptische Spielwarenfabrik Schöenner GmbH. A factory was established in Muggendorf, and about the turn of the century the production of the toy boats and fire engines, mostly steam powered models, began. For an unknown reason, business declined. The firm ended production in 1912. The business was sold to Josef Falk. Prior to this time, Schöenner had produced steam engines for Falk as well as those sold under its own name. Falk began as an employee of Georges Carette. He started his own company in 1895.

Schöenner was famous for making beautiful trains, but today these toys are very hard to find and expensive. Schöenner trains are often mistakenly identified as being built by other manufacturers of that era such as Georges Carette or Ernst Plank. Owning a train from Schöenner is probably the dream of every collector. Schöenner is certainly a wonderful example of those firms completely forgotten and then re-discovered recently by collectors.

Schöenner Gauge I live steam passenger set painted tin, American steam outline 2-2-0 & 2 painted tin 1st class coaches Schöenner gauge I live steam passenger set painted tin American steam outline 4-4-0
Schöenner gauge 90mm American outline steam powered engine with integral tender and coach circa 1900 Schöenner American profile gauge IV live steam train painted tin 4-4-0 engine
Schöenner 'O' gauge early American Outline Live Steam 2-2-0 Locomotive, lithographed tin Tender, and Passenger Coach Schöenner #2 gauge 4-2-0 Live Steam Locomotive, 4-wheel Tender and Passenger coach
Schöenner Storkleg live steam locomotive in gauge 1 Schöenner 1 gauge 2-2-0 Live Steam Train Engine Schöenner gauge 1 live steam stork leg loco and tender, circa 1898-1900 Schöenner 1 gauge Live Steam Train Engine
Schöenner circa 1908 0-4-0 clockwork engine Schöenner #1080/4 lithographed clockwork locomotive 1902 era Schöenner American Style lithographed clockwork locomotive and tender Schöenner clockwork #7148 0-4-0 Lithographed Tank Loco
Schöenner 3.5 inch gauge 4-2-0 Live Steam Set-includes European profile stork leg engine with tender and passenger coach Schöenner 4-4-0 live steam loco and 6-wheel tender circa 1902 Schöenner gauge III Black Prince locomotive and tender circa 1905

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