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It was at the OTS Show in Chicago in 2008 when Don Pielin approached me about some very old slate moulds from Germany that he had discovered. These were designed to produce an interesting range of flat figures and related scenes. Soon afterwards, I had the opportunity to take a closer look at them. I was completely thrilled, as I realised that the moulds represented the typical themes of the very early years of the manufacture of tin figures.

There were moulds covering the following subject areas:
• Railway – Civilians in 1850s period dress;
• Harbor with ships;
• Circus riders;
• Garden scene;
• Market scene;
• Pigeon/dovecote;
• Animals;
• Village scenes;
• Horses in pasture;
• Sheep farm;
• Hunting scene
• Soldiers of the 18th and 19th centuries
• Battle scenes;
• Camp scenes, including tents, trees and other accessories; and last but not least,
• English Coronation Coach and related figures.

Since there were also some painted original castings from the 19th century, I was able to get an impression of the quality of the figures, and my enthusiasm only increased.

Don Pielin found out from the previous owner of the moulds, Fern Breitner, that he had purchased them from a Reverend Peter Lampert. Although Peter Lampert was from Brooklyn, NY, he regularly went to North Carolina in the late 1970s to visit Fern Breitner’s wife’s candy and gift shop in Ashville, NC. One day he showed Breitner the moulds and figures and asked if he could do something with them. Reverend Lampert told him that the moulds were from his grandmother’s sister Amelia Adami, who worked as a chambermaid for Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III. Amelia was married to the Danish architect Hansen, who is said to have constructed several boulevards in Paris. When Hansen died, his widow came to America to live with her sister and brought the moulds with her. Peter Lampert recalled that he played with figures cast from the moulds as a child. The moulds and a number of castings later came into his possession, but by the 1980s he was no longer interested in keeping them and decided to sell.i

That sounded a bit like a fairy story! Could the moulds really have gone first to France and then to the USA? But the story continued…

Regardless of the provenance, Fern Breitner bought the moulds because he was a skilled craftsman and his aunt dealt in antiques and could sell the figures that he could make from them. Whether this idea was ever realised in practice we do not know!

In any case, in 1987 Fern Breitner showed some of the moulds to somebody at the Cooper Union Museum NY. (part of the Smithsonian).

There it was recognised that these were German tin figure moulds from around 1850. The Museum was very interested in acquiring them, but only as a gift! Fern Breitner did not find this a very interesting proposition, so he took them back home. He tried contacting the Phillips auction house in NY, but this did not get him anywhere.

At some point, a while later, the moulds came into the possession of Don Pielin. He contacted me and said: “Since these are undoubtedly German moulds, they belong in Germany” and that is why in 2008 he offered to sell them to me. We came to an agreement, and after a while the moulds arrived at my house. There were 80 slate moulds in total, engraved on both sides. These allowed the casting of more than 400 figures, groups and accessories. As I began to unpack and look at them more carefully, the tin figure manufacturer Söhlke came to mind, as they dealt with many of the same themes as the moulds I now owned.

We know of a pattern book from around 1859 from the Söhlke tin figure manufacturer in Berlin, which was founded in 1819. There is a reprint of this, which I immediately got hold of. I was astonished to see how many figures made from the present moulds were depicted in color.

In the text of the reprint, Prof. Dr. Czeguhn and Dr. Schraudolphii state that between 1873 and 1875 over 1000 slate moulds were sold by Söhlke to the tin figure company Ernst Heinrichsen in Nuremberg. However, early figures from the 1830s are mostly missing from the full stock of moulds. The conversations that followed with Schraudolph and Czeguhn were very informative, and the story slowly became more and more exciting.

Could the moulds I had now acquired be Söhlke’s missing moulds from the 1830s? Or, had these perhaps been engraved again, precisely because they were already missing?

The year 2020 brought Covid19, with the consequent restrictions that meant that nobody was allowed to leave their homes and public museums, etc, were closed. This gave me the idea of creating a virtual museum with my collections. As a consequence of the pandemic I had gained a lot of time at home. I got started straight away. On this newly created website, among other things, I posted the history of the moulds from the USA and uploaded pictures of them all and the many figures that could be cast from them.

Then there was a surprising development on the topic in which four people played an important role. They were:
• Dr. Grobe, the current owner of the Heinrichsen tin figure company; iii
• the Swiss collector Alfred Sulzer; iv
• Bernhard Schwarz, the Operator of a toy figure manufacturer database on the internet;v and
• casting/mould expert Florian Wilcke.

When comparing notes with the inventory of Dr. Grobe, it turned out that she had moulds that I did not have, as well as missing moulds that I now possessed. In addition, various moulds were present in both her and my own inventories. She also noticed that, while some figures were often identical, in many other cases the USA moulds looked different to the Söhlke moulds. This suggests that another manufacturer might be involved, as there was no copyright protection around 1850, and the different manufacturers often copied each other’s figures without a care in the world, producing practically identical figures.

A closer examination of the casting moulds revealed that small changes were often made to the figures compared to the the Söhlke Pattern book/Catalogue. Also, there were some additional types but others were also missing. There were also references to templates from other manufacturers, such as Ramm, Lüneburg (with its horses in pasture and cattle pasture figures and also important types of knight / tournament figures).

In fact, when the moulds were reexamined closely, the engraving “Kinkeldey Stettin” was found on one mould. Now events accelerated, and suggestions about references to a manufacturer Traugott Kinkeldey followed, both from Sulzer and Schwarz. Things took off. Schwarz found out that Kinkeldey worked as a manufacturer and engraver in Stettin (now Szcecin, Poland), in 1851.

Johann Carl Traugott Kinkeldey was born on May 12, 1814 in Schweidnitz. He went to Stettin, learned the craft of pewter casting, and later became a master pewter caster. He made flat figures and engraved the casting moulds himself.

Schwarz also determined that Traugott Kinkeldey travelled to America with his wife Friederike on the passenger ship Elida on August 15, 1856, and arrived in New York on September 29, 1856. This made it clear that Lambert’s story about the links with the French Queen, etc, which sounded so interesting, were probably not true!

The full set of moulds in my possession contains figures from German, English and American history. Kinkeldey first sold his figures in Germany, and probably also in England. Later, after his emigration, he also engraved figures specifically for the American market in the USA. He also expanded his existing series by engraving additional figures. However, this development is another story, which will be discussed in Part 2, to follow in the next issue of this magazine.

Illustrations of the moulds and other figures by Kinkeldey can be found at:

Tournament Series: Picture from the Zinnfiguren – pattern book from Ramm, Lüneburg. circa 1860, knight with sword. This series was copied by Kinkeldey exactly from Ramm!
Tournament Series: Picture from the Ramm pattern book,
knight with halberd.
Tournament Series: Picture from the Ramm pattern book, King on his throne.
Tournament Series: Slate mould engraved by Kinkeldey, King on his throne. In the base plate of this mould the engraving “T Kinkeldey Stettin” is clearly visible.
State Coach Series: – This Coach from Kinkeldey is a perfect copy of the Söhlke State Golden Coach. The latter was originally used by Söhlke to depict the Opening of the British Parliament. It is not clear why this example of the coach is painted in blue. Possibly, Kinkeldey intended to depict another event using the same coach. This is an example of an original coach made by Kinkeldey, from the mid-19th century, in its original blue finish.
State Coach Series: Close up detail showing figures in the blue coach.
State Coach Series: Picture of old original figures of the State Coach (possibly intended to represent Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) – from the slate mould engraved by Kinkeldey.
State Coach Series: – This model of State Golden Coach with figures was made by Söhlke, Berlin. It is clear that it was intended to represent the Opening of the Parliament because it came in an original box with label as shown in the next image! This coach was the blueprint used by Kinkeldey to make his copy of the coach.
State Coach Series: – This image shows the original box that the State Golden Coach with Figures was made by Söhlke came in, with the label “Gold State Coach“ for the Opening of the Parliament.
State Coach Series: Close inspection of the moulds makes clear that Kinkeldy intended to copy the Golden State Coach This picture shows the Crown for the English Gold Coach in one of the original moulds engraved by Kinkeldey. This piece is missing (broken off) in the example of the blue painted coach in the picture above.
Children playing Soldiers Series: Picture of old original figures made by Kinkeldey, Garde Cuirassier on rocking horse and Prussian soldier with pickelhaube, circa 1850.
Children playing Soldiers Series: Slate mould by Kinkeldey.
Harbour series: Picture of some different old original painted figures from the Harbour series by Kinkeldey.
Hunting series: Picture of old original painted figures from the Hunting series by Kinkeldey.
Picture of a variety of newly cast figures from the old Kinkeldey moulds.

iAccording to a transcript form Fern Breitner’s wife, who owned a gift shop in North Carolina.
iiDr. Erhard Schraudolph and Prof. Dr. Ignacio Czeguhn are collectors and authors of many articles and books about old flat figures.
iiiZinnfiguren Ernst Heinrichsen, for more information see:
ivAlfred Sulzer is a well-known Swiss collector of old flat figures and author of books on that subject. His lifelong personal collection of flat figures is since 2023 part of the Germanisches National Museum in Nuremberg.
vBernhard Schwarz, Extensive database of lead figure manufacturers, see:
viFlorian Wilcke, Expert and author about flat figures and casting moulds; for more information, see:

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