Early 20th-Century Zinner Mechanical Toy
Appraised Value: $1,500 - $2,500
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (31:40)
Asian Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Senior Appraiser-Fine & Decorative Arts
GUEST: This came to me as a Christmas gift in 1946. At the time I was living in Berlin, Germany, where my mother was an official of the United States military government. Times were really tough in Berlin. It was immediately after the war and people were selling their treasures off. I don't know the value, but I know roughly what we paid for it. We paid about two cartons of cigarettes for it. They were blue label cigarettes shipped from the states, not black market. It was honest, legal barter, and that would have been roughly the equivalent of $200.
APPRAISER: Okay. $200 at that point would have been quite a bit of money.
APPRAISER: Let me tell you what I know about it. It's German, late 19th century, mechanical toy with a music box, and is made by a company called Zinner-- Z-I-N-N-E-R. Now, this exceptional head was prepared by Cuno Otto Dressel-- That's COD referred to in the trade-- and it's an extraordinarily well-decorated face with a great expression. And then this has a clockwork mechanism, as you know. You had said something about the key.
GUEST: I couldn't find the key and I really wanted to be able to play it. So my husband went to the machine shop and got the fellas to make a key for it. So this is not the original key.
GUEST: Everything else is original and I've not tried to clean it.
APPRAISER: Other things, of course, little condition issues. The chair looks like it may have been repaired and repainted at one point. And then, of course, this arm here, as you know...
GUEST: We did re-glue his arm on. Now, we didn't repaint the chair. If that was repainted, it was before it came to me.
APPRAISER: Correct, that may very well have been. And so none of this really got damaged in the trip back from Germany.
GUEST: Well, we've lost a little hair on the girl's head and the juggler himself has lost a little hair. I guess that happens when he aged.
APPRAISER: Yes, it happens to all of us. Well, everybody here that... my colleagues that looked at it just fell in love with it right away.
GUEST: I'm absolutely amazed that you know what it is.
APPRAISER: It's delightfully whimsical piece, and I think, right now, with this condition, you're at, probably, retail price, somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500. Now, some of my colleagues think that that's a very conservative estimate, but still, it's a gorgeous piece. Now, would you mind winding it a little bit?
APPRAISER: We'll give it a little wind. (music plays) And the tune is "Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay-I-Ay." (music plays)
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