Yes, it's true ... there was a time when children's toys actually sold for one penny!
They were small in size and sold primarily by street vendors at the turn of the century. The time frame for these gems of the collector's world ran from around 1890 to the mid 1930s, and to say they are priceless today is an understatement. Some rare examples have sold at auction in recent years in the five figure range. Penny toys were crafted from a variety of materials, including paper, wood, celluloid, cast iron, wire pressed card and tinplate. Prior to their introduction, most toys were only found in the homes of wealthy or middle class families. The introduction of penny toys opened up a vast new market for manufacturers. The goal of the producer was quantity, not quality, and therefore they did not hold up well under hard play, which means that examples in good condition are difficult to find today.
I have enjoyed typing since my teens, when I enlisted into military service and was taught as part of my training. Over the years I came to enjoy anything with a keyboard, from typewriters to teletypewriters and, of course, the computer.
I discovered toy typewriters not long after I discovered Ebay, the world's garage sale. I found a little Simplex that piqued my curiosity, then a Marx, then ... well, you get the idea. Early on it became obvious I would have to limit the collection somehow so I decided, for the most part, to restrict it to toy typewriters made in the United States before Japan took over the market. The Japanese products were very good and eventually became both attractive and reasonably functional. But there would be far too little room to include them.
Some 10,000 of the Boxer Rebellion toy were produced by Lehmann at the beginning of last century, but today only a handful are known to exist.
The inspiration behind this Lehmann toy was the brutal suppression of a bloody rebellion in China at the turn of the last century by the four greats powers of the day - England, France, Germany and Russia. The rebellion was carried out by disaffected Chinese who had formed a secret society known as the ´Harmonious Fists´, thus the term ´boxers´. They had the tacit support of the Dowager Empress at the time, but the killing of a German Minister and sieges of several of the ´great powers´ embassies provoked England, France, Germany and Russia into taking action in ending the rebellion. The `Boxers´ were known as such because of their prowess in using martial arts in attacks on Allied citizens and Chinese Christians.