The above image is reproduced from a 1908 Fleischmann catalogue advertising the Twin Screw Express Mail Steamer Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Of interest is the fact that the vessel depicted more closely resembles the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse or the Kronprinz Wilhelm – having one less deck and only two masts. The text indicates that Fleischmann offered the model in a range of sizes from 100cm to 300cm– an amazing 9.84 feet! The advertisement goes on to boast that the model’s running rigging is exactly correct and the model is built to such a degree of accuracy that it can be used for educational purposes at university. There can be little doubt that Fleischmann were proud of their accomplishment! The advertisement is both charming and rare. Manufacturers of the period generally displayed their wares in showrooms and at exhibitions, therefore printed catalogues are unusual.
To date, no data has been discovered to indicate exactly how many models were ultimately produced, or if the Norddeutscher Lloyd was the sole client. The models were not production line items and were built to order only. Though Fleischmann indeed offered a 300cm version there is no evidence that such a model was ever produced.
Two distinct sizes are known: the 154cm/5’ model built to a scale of 1:140, and the 1:100 scale model measuring 215cm/7’. The model displayed at the Stadtmuseum in Schwabach (a shortened version of the 1:100 scale model) may be a unique example as it is not constructed to scale.
A number of examples of the 154cm, 1:140 scale model can be found online, pictured in antique toy publications and in auction catalogues. It is not uncommon to find these models misidentified as the larger, 215cm model, likely due to the fact that so little information is available about them and many assume that only a single size was produced.
At 154cm/5' this smaller, 1:140 scale model of Fleischmann's Kronprinzessin Cecilie was obviously thought to be quite a special item as it was selected to appear in the 1989 May-June issue of Christie's International Magazine. She was offered at Christie's Fine Toys and Dolls auction 18 May, 1989. Auction estimate: £12,000 to £18,000. A small number of these models are known to exist - most in the hands of private collectors. (Click image to enlarge)
It is clear that the Norddeutscher Lloyd presented the largest models only to their principal agents. Correspondence preserved by the Mariners’ Museum indicates that Morris Rosenbaum, Philadelphia agent for NDL, was in possession of two models – one being returned to Germany following WWI. Photographs of Rosenbaum’s ticket office from 1911 show a quantity of steamship advertising but, strangely, no models. One wonders if the Cecilie might have resided in the private office of the Director!
Research has revealed that the model presently undergoing restoration was delivered to H. Claussenius & Co., General Western Agents for the North German Lloyd with offices located (at the time) at 95 Dearborn Street in Chicago. Almost certainly the Bowling Green offices of Oelrichs & Co. in New York contained an example, though no reference to it has yet been found. Based upon the little information that is known it is likely only a handful of the 1:100 scale models – perhaps six or fewer – made their way to the United States.
This Fleischmann model of the Cap Polonio (click image to enlarge) was offered as part of the Malcolm Forbes Toy Collection on 17 December, 2010. At 40"/100cm she is built to a scale of 1:200. She is fitted with interior lighting and appears to be in original condition. The builders' plate accompanying the model (not visible in this image) is identical to those attached to models of the Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Examples from Fleischmann's scale model division are exceptionally rare. This model was valued at $20,000-$30,00 and sold for USD $17,500.