Pull toy: Excelsior steam riverboat

Object Number: 
1937.478
Date: 
ca. 1870
Medium: 
Iron, tin, paint
Dimensions: 
Overall: 14 x 21 x 7 in. ( 35.6 x 53.3 x 17.8 cm )
Marks: 
stencilled: on each side, on paddle wheel covers, in brown: "EXCELSIOR"
Description: 
Fanciful representation (in tinned sheet iron) of side-wheel steamer; four tiered decks with windows and doors stencilled on sides in dark green; open deck on bottom level, near the bow, with steps leading to next deck; cast iron paddle wheels at center, paddle wheel cover rises to top of third level, decorated with lithograph illustration of golden-haired woman depicted in green dress with white collar, and hat with green feather and veil of lighter green, holding reins of white horse; wheat-sheaf motif stencilled at top of cover; decks trimmed with acanthus-leaf patterned strip; two pairs of smoke-stacks, taller pair at bow, crowned with acanthus-leaf decoration; wire suspended between smaller pair; gong suspended between larger pair; American flag (with irregular number of stars and stripes) mounted at stern.
Gallery Label: 
This toy is listed as "Giant riverboat ('Excelsior')" in the George Brown Toy Sketchbook, pl. 31. Unlike most of the other toys, this boat includes a lithograph illustration. As a sale item, the riverboat was unsuccessful, and was later dropped from the line (viii). Designed to be used on dry land, the proportions and function of this boat are inconsistent with its real counterpart - there is no indication of an engine, or a walking-beam that would connect the smoke-stacks to a motive power.
Bibliography: 
Edith F. Barenholtz, ed., The George Brown Toy Sketchbook (Princeton, NJ: The Pyne Press, 1971), no. 31.
Credit Line: 
Purchased from Elie Nadelman
Provenance: 
The Folk Art Collection of Elie Nadelman
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group