As all Märklin boats were available with a variety of names and flags (trade buyers could choose these details prior to placing an order), it seems safe to assume this ocean liner named Deutschland was made for the home market.
At 3ft 10in (1.17m), it ranks as the largest model produced by the Göppingen factory and, with four propellers powered by electricity, was doubtless among the most expensive when sold around 1912.
With a freshly charged battery a tinplate boat could run for up to six hours, which is why electricity rather than clockwork or steam was always the more costly option when ordering from the Märklin catalogue.
Fairfield, Maine auctioneers James D. Julia (15% buyer's premium) offered Deutschland for sale on June 22 on behalf of a Southern gentleman who had purchased it in 1961 from F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City (at the time, the famed toy store had an antique toy department, a venture they repeated for a short time in the early 2000s.
The auctioneers considered it to be in all-original condition, accompanied by 24 lifeboats, three mammoth smokestacks, twin anchors at the bow and a host of other features with, as expected, some 'alligatoring' to the paint and a heavy accumulation of dirt, which would only add to its charm and desirability.
Accordingly they were surprised to see it sell to an "ecstatic" Pennsylvania bidder for $46,000 (£30,650) against a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-75,000.
Coming in the wake of one of the largest sales of tinplate boats of all time, was this perhaps a case of post-Claus sale syndrome? Certainly, with some would-be bidders choosing not to participate, the auctioneers thought it was the bargain of the sale and they were probably right.
Exchange rate: £1 = $1.50