Collecting Tinplate Fire Engines

A French Unis tinplate clockwork Auto Pompe Fire Engine

A French Unis tinplate clockwork Auto Pompe Fire Engine. Sold for £55 at Lacy Scott and Knight, December 2021.

There’s something special about tinplate fire engines. They’re intricate, they’re beautiful, and they hark back to a bygone era of firefighting.
For collectors the area is easily definable and a good collection can be acquired. We include a number of examples along with their estimates or prices achieved at auction.

Arnold Germany tinplate clockwork Fire Engine with simulated fire spark action in the boiler

Arnold Germany tinplate clockwork Fire Engine with simulated fire spark action in the boiler. Sold for £90 at SAS, January 2022.

Tinplate fire engines were first produced in the late 19th century, and they quickly became popular among children and toy collectors alike.
Some of the most collectable and highly prized tinplate fire engines were made by the German and French toy companies including Marklin, Bing, Arnold, Distler and Unis.

A German Distler Fire Station and Distler Open Fire Engine

A German Distler Fire Station and Distler Open Fire Engine. Sold for £700 at M&M Auctions, September 2019.

They were often colourful with excellent  and transfer printing including names, firemen and fire engine details. Some models included extending ladders and detachable tin firemen. Clockwork tinplate fire engines are particularly desirable, especially in good working order.

German Tipp & Company-Tippco Scarce Tinplate Fire Engine

German Tipp & Company-Tippco Scarce Tinplate Fire Engine. Sold for £580 at C & T Auctioneers, October 2018.

British toy makers such as Mettoy made tinplate fire engines.

British Mettoy clockwork Tinplate Fire Engine with escape ladder. Sold for £160 at C & T Auctioneers, January 2016.

 

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