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Toy Brands and Manufacturers

Marklin crest 1925.jpg
Märklin company name, lettering.jpg


German marques
Bing - Bub - Carette - Märklin - Steiff

The Märklin ( or Maerklin ) toymaking business, started in 1859 in the toy and craftmaking region of Württemburg as W. Märklin by Theodor Märklin, is one of the great toymaker marques.

In 1888 the company became Gebrüder Märklin ("Märklin Brothers"), and the company absorbed the toymaker Lutz in 1891.

Märklin's toys are often recognisable through their solid build quality, the common use of stylised proportions in the earlier toys, and a certain stylistic imaginative exhuberance, coupled with engineering excellence.

Later creations put more emphasis on literal precision and correct proportions, but the more distinctively toylike products produced between ~1895 and ~1914 are sometimes referred to as belonging to the "Golden Age" of Märklin.


Theodor Friedrich Wilhelm Märklin (1817 - 1866) opened his metalworking workshop in Göppingen in 1859, the same year that he married Caroline. Caroline started working as a travelling sales rep for the workshop which initially had a sort of niche making toy kitchens for dolls. Caroline continued to run the business after her husband's death. Of their four children, the two sons, Eugen Märklin (1861 - 1947) and Charles Märklin took over and restructured the business in 1888 (after Caroline's second husband died), as Gebr. Märklin (Märklin Brothers).

The new business no longer just made toy kitchens and stoves, but expanded to produce just about every small type of metal toys or associated item that one could think of, helped by the takeover of Lutz.


Ludwig Lutz (1820-1899) had founded a successful company making painted tin toys, including clockwork cars and toy trains, and although Lutz had groomed his two sons and daughter to take part in and run the business, the company now needed an overhaul and investment in new machinery, and selling out to the new Gebr Märklin company seemed opportune.

The same year that they took over Lutz (1891), Märklin exhibited a model railway at the Leipzig Spring Fair consisting of a locomotive running on a figure-eight track


Although the new Märklin company went on to produce everything from enamelled toy fountains to scientific equipment, their main achievement is usually taken to be the introduction of the concept of standardised gauges for model railways. Where model trains had tended to be single items that were often floorbound (because the investment in making track to go with each model didn't seem worthwhile), Märklin recognised that if one was to build railway sets, it wasn't sensible to make new sets of track to go with each arbitrary-sized model train ... track had to be standardised, with subsequent trains designed to fit the existing track, rather than the track being designed to fit the trains.

Märklin's initial track size became Gauge 1 (Spur 1), and was joined by a range of larger and progressively larger-numbered track gauges, and a smaller gauge, gauge 0. These standard gauges promoted interoperability between different companies' products, and reduced the risk both for buyers purchasing a model railway, and for third-party companies supplying specialised accessories and components. For a small company whose expertise was track, or locomotives, or rolling stock, standardised gauges meant that they could sell into existing markets without having to invest in manufacturing entire model railway sets themselves, or having to depend on the strategy of any one external company. The standardised gauging system created an ecology of companies around each gauge, reassuring buyers that their investment wasn't dependent on a single company or product line, and reassuring smaller companies that these were stable markets to sell into.

References and links

  • Gilles Herve, Charlotte Parry-Crooke, Märklin 1895-1914 (Ingram, 1983) ISBN 0907724035


This category has the following 5 subcategories, out of 5 total.

Pages in category ‘Märklin’

The following 51 pages are in this category, out of 51 total.

Media in category ‘Märklin’

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