Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

The History of Moko Toys            by Wendy Gater



Moko wooden doll's house, 1920s, label MOKO BAVARIA to base, opening at front to reveal two rooms on two storeys, Dutch barn style roof, painted red and green, missing front door, 19"/48cm x 16"/41cm x 9"/23cm.

Moses Kohnstam started a toy manufacturing company in Germany in 1867, later using the trading name "Moko Toys". The company was based in Fürth near Nuremberg in Germany. The name "Moko" derived from Moses Kohnstam's name, the first two letters of his christian name and also from his surname.

Moses Kohnstam was a wholesaler who specialised in packaging, storing and distributing toys and also gave financial backing to small toy manufacturers for which he received a percentage of their selling prices.

He also sold toys using his own brand name "Moko", the toys he distributed carried his Company's name Moko no matter what various small firm's made them.

 By 1890 Moko had branches in Milan, Brussels and East London. Although M.Kohnstam & Company were not the largest toy manufacturer in Germany they were one of the leading firms in it's field, owning a number of patents for mechanical toys.

The business was quite profitable and had a large amount of export trade. The name M. Kohnstam & Company was very well known and respected within the business circles throughout Europe.

Moses came to England in about 1900 to develop the toy industry,  Moko became a well known name in toys. Many different toys were sold under the Moko name.

Moses Kohnstam died in 1912, one of his sons Julius Kohnstam took over the business until the late 1940's. It was then that Richard Kohnstam (Moses' grandson, Julius's nephew) took control of the company.

In 1953 Richard Kohnstam became the marketing agent for Lesney Products, later better known as Matchbox Toys. Moko took a percentage of the profits on the products sold. In 1959 Lesney bought out Moko, there were conflicting interests between the parties.

Richard went on to form his own firm Richard Kohnstam Ltd / Riko International which were a toy and model importer until the end of 2000.



(below picture courtesy Wendy Gater) Moko Antique Dolls House early 1900's

The above Moko Dolls House dates from the early 1900's, it has an original red painted wooden roof, original painted front with flowers on the front and both sides. The top of the front is painted in the half timbered style, it has steps leading to the front non-opening door,it has wooden square windows downstairs and painted ones upstairs.

Inside are two rooms dividing the house into two sections, these appeared to have been painted white relatively recently so I have added original vintage wallpaper to give the house some character and depth inside. I have used a mix of flour and water to hang the new wallpaper so it will be very easy to remove in the future if required. I have tried many times to remove paint from wallpapers underneath and have never been successful so decided to paper over the recently added paint. I don't know what would have been on the internal walls originally, I would guess at a painted finish?

This house has previously been held at a museum which sadly had to close.

These houses are ideal for collectors of small antique/ vintage dolls houses as they are small enough to be kept on a shelf. The above dolls houses approximate measurements are: 32cms wide x 23cms high x 15cms deep.


(Picture below left) Moko 1890 Trademark      Picture below right early 1900 Trademark

The above trademark to the left is an early M.Kohnstam & Co label 1890's.

The above Moko trademark to the right is a later one, this is the one on the underside of the dolls house detailed above which dates to the early 1900's.

(Picture below) House with recently added wallpaper to overpainted white paint

Pictures below: back of Tobacco Rug            Front of Tobacco rug & Antique Bed & Doll


I have used antique/vintage tobacco rugs on the floor in this house, they fit in perfectly size wise. These types of items were premium items found in tobacco/ cigarette packaging.

In around 1870 it was common practice for tobacco companies to have "free" gift inserts inside the packaging. These included cigarette cards, printed flannels, silks and cigar ribbons. The practice of giving away these novelties was to promote the sale of tobacco products. The type of tobacco style carpet/rug as seen in the above picture were available from the early 1900's onwards, they were available to collect in many different colours, designs and patterns. Many have stamp marks on the back the above tobacco rug is stamped "Egyptian Cigarettes, Straights Factory, N.Y (New York).

These are ideal for using in Dolls Houses not only as rugs but also for wall hanging,  there are some with beautiful pictures and patterns. They are generally 5inches by 3 inches in size but can vary.

This practice of giving these free inserts with tobacco products was diminished around the time of the beginning of World War 1.

N.B The competition on page 14 of this magazine is to win four Tobacco Rugs.


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