The firm of Georges Carette & Cie. was founded by
in Nüremberg Germany in 1893. Georges Carette, a Frenchman, moved to Germany as a youth or
young man. In Nüremberg he opened a toy company in 1886, backed by his German foster father.
(Georges was then, and would always be, a French citizen.) The firm did well and made toys of all
different types, including model boats, cars and railways. All models were mechanical
and made of tin. Many were lithographed and favorites were electric streetcars and model trains.
It competed with the likes of Bing,
Märklin, and other large toymakers of the time. A partnership with
Issmayer and Karl Bub of Nüremberg allowed all
three companies to produce similar looking trains which often had only the logo that was different.
Before 1900 the company concentrated it's production to a range of tin and brass toys, some of which were
made by Hess.
After the turn of the century the company expanded when in collaboration with
Bassett-Lowke, Carette made a good deal of carriages for the English
market. They were very elegant and the reality was artistically interpreted.
Because of his nationality and politics, Georges fell afoul of the German authorities upon the outbreak
of WWI and had to flee Germany, through Switzerland, back to France, where he spent the rest of his life.
The toy company was run by a partner until 1917, when it closed.
Carette, like the other toymakers of the time, produced a wide variety of railway
equipment in several different gauges. The “storkleg” locomotive was typical of
its time and similar ones were made by
a variety of companies. They were given this appellation because of the very long drive rods powering
a single large wheel on each side. When in motion, this gave them the ungainly look of a stork walking.
Storkleg engines were commonly available in gauges 0 and 1. Carette, and perhaps others, even made them in
gauge 3. Storklegs could have either oscillating or fixed cylinders. The engine has the usual low-pressure
pot boiler. Boiler fittings include a safety valve and a whistle.
The boiler is fired by an alcohol burner with three flat wicks. A large fuel tank is clipped in place
beneath the cab. Two, single-acting oscillating cylinders power the engine. These are reversed by a rotary
valve between them, controlled from the cab by a long rod on the right side of the boiler that actuates
a rocker arm that takes the motion inside, between the frames to the valve. The tinplate tender has no
practical function and is just there for looks. It has a formed-metal coal load. There is an apron
on the engine that folds down to cover the gap between the loco and tender when they are coupled.
Storkleg-engines were made in the thousands. Many were destroyed by young hands, but a few survive.
Of those, most languish in private collections, spending their time sitting silently on shelves.
Carette trains are very hard to find and are highly valued by collectors today. In June of 2007
a Carette gauge I #2350 locomotive sold for $35,750 in an auction in the United States. The Carette trains
were highly detailed. Locomotives came in both clockwork and live-steam driven models. Coaches came with fitted
interiors and hinged roofs for access and viewing.
Link to website
displaying multiple pictures of Carette model boats and ships made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.