Monday, June 9, 2014

The Art of Play: Gustav the Busy Miller, 1930

Gustav the Busy Miller
E. P. Lehman Co., 1930
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This mechanical toy dates to 1930.  Made in Germany for export to England, it is called “Gustav the Busy Miller.”  

The toy consists of a flour mill; a long green metal tube with a set of ratchet slots. Within the mill is a spiraled length of metal.
  Attached to the outside by a series of  slots is the miller "Gustav”--a metal figure printed white, black and beige who climbs the pole by means of a cogged wheel.

Gustav’s arms and legs are loosely joined by tongue tabs at the shoulders and hips. The top of his head—a condition which must be uncomfortable—is shaped like a dish which will hold the sack of flour. The weight of the sack on the hook allows the Gustav to climb and turn the red sails to tighten the mechanism. The miller's head collects the sack and allows the mechanism to unwind while the figure goes back down.

Gustav was made by the E. P. Lehmann C0.

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