Lot 49
  • 49

Fine and Important Märklin "Lusitania" Ocean Liner Germany, circa 1912

100,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • tin, paint
The first class passenger's acronym for the most desirable cabins, P.O.S.H. (Portside Out, Starboard Home) has become synonymous with sumptuous luxury. This is an apt description for the "Lusitania," one of Märklin's most important ocean liners crafted at the height of their creative genius. The deck, finished in faux wood planking, is fitted with a host of elegant and intricate details including working anchors and chain, tall foremast fitted with searchlight and crow's nest set just before a multi-tiered superstructure. This is fitted with a bridge with stairs and an observation post, four top quality funnels and over two dozen ventilators of various shapes and sizes, a walkway incorporating a cabin and domed panel skylight, and ship's wheel controlling the rudder bearing the Märklin logo. The hull is handsomely finished in white with portholes over a blue lower deck with portholes over copper red over brick red at keel and two hinged gates on railing with gangway secured below. Marked "Lusitania" in gold at bow on either side. There is a view of the lower deck made possible by small cutouts in the hull on both sides. This adds to the toy's realism on one hand while stirring the imagination on the other. Electric (dry cell) motor housed in hull. In the case of the "Lusitania" what is often said about wine is true of the toy's finish. Age has improved it. Its gentle fading and crazing add to its appeal and enforces the feeling that it is a regal survivor of a long ago era.


Length: 37 ½ inches


Sale: Sotheby's, Collectors' Carrousel Part III, June 4, 1983, Lot 355

Catalogue Note

This model appears in the 1909 Märklin catalogue as no. 5050E. To date this is the only known example, however, named "Lusitania."

The RMS Lusitania was launched in England in 1906 and made her maiden voyage in 1907 as an upscale ocean liner with a capacity of over 2,000 people. During World War I, she was enlisted as an Armed Merchant Cruiser, although she never actually acted in this capacity because of the high cost of running such a large ship. The Lusitania maintained her regularly scheduled civilian transportation routine throughout the war. Unfortunately, this made her susceptible to enemies on the open seas, and she was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland in 1915. She lost 1,198 of her 1,959 civilian passengers and thus helped to turn American public opinion against Germany and for entry into World War I.