University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 124 (December 1947)

Toys,   pp. 6-8 PDF (2.1 MB)


Page 6


NUREMBERG has for centuries
been one of the major toy
centers of the world. As far back as
the 14th century, children tugged at
their mother's kirtle, or banged on
father's armor until their pleas for
Nuremberg toys had at least been
heard. Many a feudal castle floor
became happily cluttered with the
toy products of the walled Bavarian
city.
Members of the various guilds of
this ancient German town first turned
out products for the juvenile market
generally as a sideline. By the end
of the 19th century the sideline had
become so profitable that the original
products of the guild makers were
forgotten, and toys were manufac-
tured on a full-time basis. The
German toy industry eventually grew
until it gained prominence in the
world market.
In small or medium-sized factories
the industry made for the young all
manner of intriguing treasures, most
frequently of tin. Simple products
such as trumpets or tops; more
complex toys like automobiles and
mechanical figures; and finally pro-
jectors, electric trains, and other
precision  items,  all  were  first
developed early in the same region.
Due to a great variety of models,
comparative cheapness of products,
and an ability by the manufacturers
to adapt their products to the tastes
and requirements of many different
markets, the Bavarian toy industry
exported 70 percent of its production
to foreign countries before the first
world war. Great Britain and the
United States became its two largest
customers.
After World War I the German
toy industry slipped from its com-
manding position because of in-
creasingly intense foreign  compe-
tition. Both Japan and the United
States became strong contenders for
the world's toy business. Thus Ger-
many lost an important customer
and also gained a rival.
THIS RISE and decline of the Ger-
man toy industry can be traced
with  the  aid  of the   following
statistics. In 1896 the export of toys
amounted to RM 40 million. In 1913
it had built itself up into a thriving
business of RM 100 million. In 1929
it had risen still further to RM 115
million. By 1937, because of internal
conditions and the instability of the
world's monetary system it had
slipped back to RM 40 million a year.
By the end of World War II the
industry had become completely
dormant. The majority of factories in
the Nuremberg vicinity were either
badly damaged or destroyed. Material
was unavailable. Skilled craftsmen
on whom much of the success of
the toy industry depended had been
diverted during combat years into
the manufacture of war material, so
there was a shortage of trained
workmen.
In May 1946 through the efforts of
Military Government the industry
WEEKLY INFORMATION BULLETIN
6
These toys were displayed at Munich export show (Photo by BYERS)
22 DECEMB3ER 1947


Go up to Top of Page