Late 19th Century Flat Bottom Toy Noah’s Ark with 37 Animals. German Circa 1890

Offered for sale is a very traditional Folk Art item; a handcrafted Noah’s Ark toy with 37 hand-painted and hand-carved animals. The flat bottom ark indicates that it was probably made in the Erzgebirge region of Germany Circa 1890, which was known for that particular design and cottage industry manufacture. Typically there were no toy companies that made these items, which is why markings are not prevalent. A cottage industry type production would be more typical, whereby one family in a village carved the animals, another painted them, another made the arc and still another painted the arc. Or it could be more simple than that whereby an entire family (if it was big enough) participated in the entire manufacture.

Toy Noah’s Arks for children to play with were very popular in the late 19th century, and being of a biblical theme, they were a favorite toy to play with on Sundays. Noah’s Ark toys were sought after in America in the late 19th century. Consequently, many examples have turned up; especially in Pennsylvania where there are many towns populated by families of German descent.

This particular ark is all original, with a 1/2″ lithographed floral molding to the top border. The balance of the finish is hand-painted in colors of brown, cream, black, purple, and red. The complete underside is hand-painted in brown. A cork like applied brown finish to the roof is complemented by simulated cloth hinges. Animals may be stored in the body and accessed by the hinged top and closed and secured with a hasp and eye hook.

The 37 figures consist of (17) pairs of animals; three pairs of birds, two pairs of pigs, two pairs of dogs, and one pair of the following: ducks, small rodents,
fawns, white rabbits, horses, lamb, camels, lions, donkeys, goats. There are three single figures; a pig, cow, and Naamah (Noah’s wife).
Worth noting is that some of the pairs of hand carved animals have differences in how they were carved and/or the color of the paint; for example, one of the pairs of dogs are different colors, and one of the pairs of pigs are different sizes. The pairs of ions and camels are different colors. This is a more rare situation and is quite desirable. Equally as rare is to have a pair of the smaller “rodents”.

The hand-painted design to the ark is all original. The back side of the arc lacks the top 3 1/2″ of lithographed molding. There is very slight touch-up to a leg of an animal here and there (to be expected). Small Interior support blocks could be added (see image).

Dimensions: 13 1/2″ long x 5 3/4″ high x 3 7/8″ wide.

Germany Circa 1890 c.H: 5 3/4"W: 13 1/2"D: 3 7/8"