Tin Toy Train in Gauge  0e

 
My reminder on this edition of toy trains was just by chance. On a flea market I bought a box of TRIX rails for my HO Gauge model railway - for just some 3 $ - I had no more left in my wallet. Being back home, I found about 100 rails and a timber car (510) of the BILLER Toy Train in the same box. This was in Bremen, Germany, on a frosty Sunday in January 1998. My father told me, that we had such a Toy Train as well in the 60th and I could hardly remember. And my father was very enthusiastic and told me about the nice little locos, mostly clockwork operated, and wagons - especially the dump cars (tipper).
 
Just one week later I went again to this flea market, hoping to find some other Biller items. And, yes, I found some more: this time I got a crane wagon (514), a banana goods wagon (524), a passenger coach (520a), a baggage wagon (521) und a battery operated loco (1500 E), the latter (shown below) without the
 

1500 without tender as bought on a flea market

corresponding battery truck. All items were in good to mint condition - 50 $ spent.

So, a new hobby was found.

Biller was formed by Johann Biller, a former employee of the famous Bing toy company, and his wife on May 2, 1935. It was located in Nuremberg on the Johannisstrasse at No. 14R. Its formal title was "Firma zur Herstellung von Metallspielwaren" (factory producing metal toys). Biller bought the first tools from Johann Philipp Meier who ceased production due to bankruptcy short before. Pre-war main goal was to produce mechanical toys.

 
The Nuremberg Population Registration Office shows two listings:catalogue as of 1949

1. 1937 - Biller, Hans - Fabrikation von Spielwaren (Toymaker)

2. 1942 - Biller, Johann - Metallspielwarenfabrik (metal toys factory).

During WW II the factory was completely destroyed. After reconstruction the palette of products changed completely and thus Tin Toy Trains were produced beginning 1948. On October 2, 1948, Hans Biller was issued a Patent titled "Umkleidung des Laufwerks von Spielzeugen, insbesondere  Spielfahrzeugen" (Covering clockwork mechanisms for toys, especially of toy vehicles). A detailed description of the Patent was issued December 13, 1951.

 
And this toy train was presented first on the "Nuremberg Toy Fare" 1950, representing a scale of approximately 1:40. 1952 the company moved to the Praterstr.9. In 1960 the factory was called Johann Biller, "Patentspielwarenfabrik" (patented  toys factory). And finally the last known change took place in 1976 - Biller moved to the last known address - Neumeyerstr. 74. Hans is a typical Bavarian nickname used instead of Johann - this would explain the different first names of Johann / Hans Biller.

The items produced/distributed by Biller were not only tin made and not only trains in gauge 0e, but as well accessories as signals, level crossings, figures and cars. There were different play scenes, such as a Olympia-Slalom (1310) or several car races (e.g.. 1415 und 1420). Known around the world - several functioning models with helicopter and aircraft, sky rocket and not ending with the an Apollo-space shuttle. Furthermore excavators, portal cranes, several trucks. Race cars with clockwork drive, last but not least the Biller "Figuro", which was able to perform 3 different figures.

Despite the so far assumed cooperation with other well-known toy producers, Biller obviously simply bought the accessories on the "free market" - to be independent. For example FALLER and WIKING do not have any knowledge of cooperation with Biller. This puts emphasis to the rumours that Hans Biller was a maverick - who is also named as inventor for a "Sound box for talking machines" in a 1924 issued US-Patent - in Germany and the UK this patent is awarded to the BING Werke. Strange!!!

Biller has several patents. Reference to this the often seen D.B.G.M. on the Biller boxes states "Deutsches Bundes Gebrauchs Muster" - a certain "small patent" concerning Germany only.

In Switzerland Biller is still known under his first Initial "HaBi", presented by a separate badge. The initial "HaBi" refers to toys produced until 1939. Post-war items only show the "Biller-B" with the wind-up key in the back or "Biller Toy".

 
Typical Biller slogans were:

diesel engine 013

"Kids can play the whole year, inside as well as outside" or, "even for very little kids no danger" or "very firm  - covered mechanism - resistant tracks on wooden sleepers - integrated idle". Pictures in various catalogues and leaflets should strengthen these characteristics. 

Biller Toy Train was available as clockwork and battery operated train.

Caused by complicated and obsolete methods of

production, thus resulting in relative high prices and thereby difficulties in selling the toys - bankruptcy was due in April 1977. At this time Hans Biller was 78 years old. Business ceased on January 18, 1978 - officially reported on January 24, 1978. The dispersal of the Biller Company was conducted by Mr. Petrov (he dispersed SCHUCO as well). The tools were sold to a professional wrecker, intending to resale the tools - parts of this lot went to The Netherlands. And here we get lost about the forms. Prior the dispersal there were negotiations e.g. in Russia in order to produce Biller toys at low cost - but this failed. Some of them obviously got into hands of other toy factories.  There are several toys like a crane, a race car or the Bimbo, which were definitely not produced by Biller, but showing exact the same shape as Biller toys did. One possible name is JOUSTRA (Jouet de Strasbourg) of France. And a Biller 095 Dock Yard Crane was produced by a Russian factory in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) - showing a different lithograph.
 
The name of Billerbahn appeared again in relation to 0-Gauge items of FRAMOS, LIMA and RAIMO, presented and advertised by the German company KLEIN,  simply using the unprotected Name of BILLER.
 
Johann Biller received several 1st class German and Bavarian decorations. He was President of several National and European Toy Trading Federations.
 

Johann Biller - born Aug 07, 1898 -

died Jun 25, 1980

at the age of 81 years.

 


 
With date AUG-09-28 the German Patent Office has (again) published the Name Biller and the letter "B" with the clockwork key as Trade Mark.

The owner of the rights has - in a mail as of JAN-28-2010 - declared that there will be no effect for the continuance of billerbahn.de as a result of the registration. Hurray - I will continue my work.

 
That's what I've done so far (MAY-02-2010).
 
My gratitude to the Office of the Federal President, the Bavarian State Chancellery and the Nuremberg City Archive for detailed information. And here are names of persons who were very helpful in creating the following pages: T. ┼hlman, K. Albrecht, P. Ast, M. Bodinar, D. Boussac, P. Brennan, H. Bussert, J. Dressel, L. v.d. Geest, R. T. Hoff, H. Hoffmann, L. Kalden, T. Kempf, C.-D. Koch, D. Maaß, K. Meise, H.-G. Papirnik, S. Piehl, R. Plum, J. Probst, Lew Schneider, J. Smith, A. Schönfeld, W. Swinkels, K. Thieme, M. Volp, R. Wittekoek, J. Zobel.

Thanks very much indeed.

 

Any proposal regarding vocabulary and other is highly appreciated. Any other feedback as well. Thanks for visiting my pages. No commercial interests.

Go ahead and ENJOY.

last update: MAY-02-2010