by Karl Schnelle
Andreas Siegumfeldt, a former plumber, started making various tinplate toys in his basement on the outskirts of Copenhagen, DK, in 1928. He switched to metal construction sets similar to Meccano from England or to Marklin from Germany in 1932 and called them Tekno! Finally, in 1937, he expanded his business and started to make tinplate fire engines, based on a Bedford with many sporting the famous Danish Falck logo. They lasted until after the war, until 1955. During WWII, tinplate was hard to come by so they switched to wooden toys. The first Tekno cars then were made sometime between ’37 and ’55, but probably not during the war.
The dark green metallic one pictured here is the MIRACO car, as identified on the front of the car is raised lettering. On the opposite side is a hole for the key to windup the mechanism. Underneath are five wheels: four metal ones on the outside and a very small rubber-tires on in the middle. the small middle one is perpendicular to the other four and sits right in front of the rear wheel sin the middle. As the car goes over the edge of the table, the front falls off and this little central wheel catches and drives the car to one side; hence, a miracle happens and the car does not fall off the table!
I do not have a key to dare try it, but the mechanism seems to be still working . I have read that Siegumfeldt collaborated with Schuco of Germany to use this design for this car. I am not sure if that is true nor not. See this link for Schuco’s Mirakocar 1001 (Mirako with a k!) – I can not see any real differences except for the printing on the baseplate and Schuco in place of MIRACO on the front! The Schuco does say Made in US Zone – Germany on the baseplate which was 1945 to up to perhaps 1955, so maybe these Teknos are post-war only.
The lighter green car pictured is the identical body but has GYRO printed on the front grill. As with the MIRACO, the only ID on the baseplate is Tekno Denmark. The tires are white rubber and there is not a fifth wheel underneath. Not a windup either (no hole), so it must be a pull-back mechanism. Mine is frozen up (two rear wheels), but I dare not open up the tinplate tabs underneath to investigate.
Perhaps Siegumfeldt tried to improve on the key windup mechanism and brought out a second type? He was known to have not liked the idea because the mechanisms were not sturdy enough (Teknosamleren, 2013). Perhaps this issue drove him to start doing diecast cars, a great win-win for us collectors!!!
These two cars came in a few other colors and I am assuming these are the first Tekno cars. Documentation on their origins is hard to come by. A French collector/dealer did find another version of the MIRACO, made by Mecline in Norway. Mecline assembled several Tekno cars and vans to avoid paying high import duties into Norway on foreign toys in the 1950s.
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