Doll et Cie. was founded in Nüremburg, Germany in 1898 by John Sondheim and tinsmith Peter Doll.
During the company’s early years, production concentrated on stationary steam engines and
accessories. These steam toys were widely distributed throughout Europe, the United Kingdom and
the United States.
Max Bein, who was Sondheim's nephew, joined the company just before the outbreak
of the First World War as a third partner. The company then started producing clockwork novelty toys.
After the war, in the
1920's and into the 1930's, the production of steam engines continued together with that of trains,
a steam car and a lorry. The company had a change of ownership in the late 1930's when
Fleischmann took it over. At that time, there were roughly
250 employees in the firm. The original founders were Jewish
and thus were being victimized by the Nazi regime, and the Aryanization laws, prompting the handover.
The Doll name was retained and used by Fleischmann until the post-war period (1949).
Max Bein and his family managed to escape Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust, winding up in the
United States, and settling in the Boston area. After the war, Fleischmann offered to return the company
back to the original owners, but they declined, accepting a buyout of their shares instead.