Q: I have enclosed photographs of two toy cars I would like to know more about. I received these Schuco Radio cars about 1950. I have two, and one is in better condition than the other. Are they rare or collectible?
A: Schuco was founded in 1912 by Heinrich Mueller and Heinrich Schreyer in Nuremberg, Bavaria — the historic epicenter of the German toy industry. Originally the company was named Spielzeugfirma Schreyer and Co., which is a bit of a tongue-twister for non-German-speaking consumers.
The name was changed in 1921 to Schuco, a name possibly derived from the first three letters of the name “Schreyer,” the “U” for the German word “und” (“and” in English), and the first two letters from “company.” The firm was known for making toy cars and trucks, but they also made almost every conceivable toy from a dancing mouse or trotting dog wearing a cape to a dancing human couple or Swiss soldier playing a drum.
The company had a tendency to end their lines’ names in “o.” There was “Studio,” “Piccolo,” Magico” and “Electro” to name just a few. But there was also “Radio,” which is the line of the car in today’s question.
At first we were expecting this cute little car to have a radio in it, but that lasted only a second or two until we discovered the vehicle contained a Thorens music box that played “Les Lavandieres du Portugal.” There was a winding mechanism for both the music box and the wheels that had a distinctive Schuco key.
This Schuco Radio 4012 should be about 6 inches long and was made between 1952 and 1964 (some sources put the date at 1950). In mint-in-box condition, the cute little toy car is valued at around $450 retail.
But for this price to be valid, the owner must have the box in pristine condition, the instruction sheet that came in the box and the key, and the car itself must look bright and essentially unused.
Lots of these Schuco Radio 4012 music box cars exist, but many have their original box, instruction sheet, key and are in generally excellent condition. This puts your car as shown at a low level of collector interest and should probably be valued at less than $30 each.
Q: I recently inherited a framed needlepoint tapestry of “The Woodcutter” by Edwin Landseer. I believe the work was commissioned in 1863. It appears to be in near-perfect condition. There is a piece of paper on the verso, which states, “Commissioned Feb. 5th ’63, Finished June 10th ’63, 200,700 stitches.” We would like to sell the piece.
A: What we see in the photographs is a lovely interpretation of English artist Edwin Landseer’s painting “The Woodcutter,” which he originally created in 1837. It appears to have been crafted with wool yarn, probably on a canvas background, and would be called “Berlin work.”
Berlin needlework started in the early 19th century with patterns published in Germany. They were hand-colored, and the idea was to trace the pattern onto canvas and then follow the hand coloring when choosing the color of wool. The craft became popular and spread to England and the United States, and by the 1840s patterns were printed in women’s magazines.
Designs were published in both Paris and Vienna. Along with the geometric, floral, biblical and allegorical scenes, there were patterns based on popular Victorian paintings, such as “The Woodcutter.”
Landseer was born in London in 1802 to an artistic family. His father was well-known engraver John Landseer. Landseer exhibited at the prestigious British Royal Academy of Arts (RA) in 1815 when he was just 13 years old.
Landseer was both a sculptor and a painter with a concentration on the representation of animals such as dogs, horses, stags, big cats such as lions and birds of prey. But while he is most famous as an animalier, he also did portraits and genre scenes. His most famous works are actually the four bronze lions that adorn the base of Admiral Nelson’s Monument in Trafalgar Square in London.
Landseer’s other iconic images are perhaps “The Monarch of the Glen,” which shows an antlered stag standing majestically in front of Scottish mountains, and “Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveler,” which is thought to be the origin of the myth of the St. Bernard dogs with casts of brandy around their necks rescuing stranded mountain trekkers.
Today’s tastes do not encompass needlework pictures such as this because they do not complement modern decor. To be sure, we have found retail examples priced in the $1,500 range, but at auction, we feel a Berlin work depicting a sentimental/romantic Victorian painting such as this one might bring only about $350 or even a bit less.
Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques.