Offered for sale is a very traditional Folk Art item; a handcrafted Noah’s Ark toy with 34 hand-painted and hand-carved animals (includes Noah and Naamah). The flat bottom ark indicates that it was probably made in the Erzgebirge region of Germany, Circa 1880-1890, 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 ark and still another painted the ark. 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 four hand painted 8 paned windows to each side of the ark, and one widow on each end; there is a blue hand painted ribbon border under the roof overhang; the roof simulates three rows of shingles; and a hand carved white applique dove is affixed to the side of the roof. The underside of the ark is painted red (see all images).
The 32 animals consist of 16 different species in pairs:
Leopards, Birds, Geese, Ducks, Pigeons, Dogs, Boars, Pigs, Foxes, Donkeys,
Horses Tigers, Hares, Coyote, Elephants, Chickens. They are stored in the ark via opening the hinged top lid and placing inside.
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 (white with brown spots versus white with black spots), and one of the pairs of horses is painted red, while the other one is silver); the foxes are painted red; there is a cream colored bird and a pinkish painted bird. This is a more rare situation and is quite desirable as it validates cottage industry manufacture and the use of different “hands”..
The condition of the ark is good and all original, as are the animals; consistent with age and use. The flat bottom has a hairline but very minor. The paint is all original with no touch up. Half of the tail of one of the animals (coyote) is lacking (see image #18), while all of the other 33 figures are complete—pretty incredible considering age and use. Really a very nice condition Noah’s Ark and animals, especially when taking into account the inexpensive wood that would have been used to make these arks—-all in all a wonderful example of folk art. It is from my own collection of folk art and toys.
Note: After 40 plus years of dealing and collecting toys, I am justly qualified to guarantee and present the authenticity of antique and vintage toys and children’s playthings; important considering the fakes and reproductions in the marketplace
Dimensions: 17 3/4″ long x 5″ wide x 7 1/2″ high