Whirligig Christmas

Antique Candle-Powered Chimes



Gallery Page One:

Adrian & Stock and the Origins of the "Angel Chime"

Adrian & Stock (Paul Hartkopf, successor)

The firm of Adrian & Stock of Solingen, Germany, well-known makers of lithographed tin toys and other articles, can be called the father of the modern angel chime. Although the Stock company did not invent the candle chime, it appears to have been the first to patent the rotating angel design, and the first to use the term "angel chime" ("Engelgeläute" in German). For more information on Adrian & Stock and its line of toys and candle chimes, I recommend the book Schweinekutsche und Gänseliesel: Geschichte und Spielzeuge der Firma Walter Stock, Solingen, by Hans Schulte-Kellinghaus (Hilden: Borch-Druck Verlag KG, [2002]), and I would like to acknowledge the usefulness of this study in composing the following section.

The numbering used in this section was adapted by Hans Schulte-Kellinghaus from Adrian & Stock's own inventory system. 

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No. 0: “Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut, Posaunenchor mit der Geburt Christi" (Angel-Christmas-Chime, Trumpet Choir with Nativity) (39 x 16 cm.)

In 1905 Walter Stock, of the firm of Adrian & Stock, took out aClick for bigger picture. series of patents on his design for a “Geläut,” or chime, showing virtually all the familiar elements of today’s Christmas candle chimes. His patent drawing (right) includes the “floating angels” carrying bell-clappers, the trumpeting angel at top, and the collapsible tripod candle- and bell-holders, which were designed to fold into a relatively small box. Described below are the two earliest Stock designs produced from the 1905 patent. Elaborately designed and cleverly made, they feature die-cut candle supports of nickel-plated tin, a lithographed nativity scene in low relief, and a large and imposing set of gilded angel figures.

Click for bigger picture.The launch of this chime was announced with some fanfare, as demonstrated by contemporary advertisements appearing in the magazine Berliner Illustrierte. The ads describe the chime in detail, praising its novel design, sturdy construction, and easy assembly. The box is printed with the splendid name of this inaugural effort: “Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut, Posaunenchor mit der Geburt Christi” (Angel-Christmas-Chime, Trumpet Choir with Nativity). The box also carries the Adrian & Stock name and logo, a practice which was soon discontinued for most of the Stock line of chimes. While impressive, the angel figures on this first Stock chime were heavy, and tended to unbalance the mechanism; this may account for the short lifespan of this model. As we’ll see, the essential elements of later “Swedish pattern” candle chimes derive directly from these early 20th century models produced by Adrian & Stock.

No. 0a: “Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut," Standard Model

Click for bigger picture.The standard model of the Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut featured a lithographed nativity scene within a gilt star. The box for this example is Click for bigger picture.letterpress-printed in black and white, which may indicate a relatively late production date. But it is in beautiful original and unrestored condition, complete with all its original packing and promotional material. 






No. 0b: "Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut," Deluxe Model

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The deluxe version of the
Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut included an added group of chromo-lithographed figures in the foreground, giving a 3D effect to the Nativity scene. This example is also accompanied by the rare instruction sheet.

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Click for bigger picture. At some point after patenting its Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut in 1905, and before it went out of production ca. 1910, Adrian & Stock introduced this non-chiming candle-powered whirligig, featuring the same trumpeting angel element found on the Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut. It was meant to be clipped to the branches of a Christmas tree. I have yet to discover an advertisement for this fascinating little gadget.



No. 1: “Engelsgeläut” (Angel Chime) (31 x 16 cm.)

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By 1910 Adrian & Stock had embarked on a full line of angel chimes, with the original “Posaunenchor mit der Geburt Christi” chime, redesigned and simplified, designated as “No. 1” of an expanding series. As redesigned, the angels are smaller, the candle holder is reduced to a simple platform, the bell supports are cheaply formed of wire, and the nativity scene is printed flat, on a single sheet of tin. A variant of this chime, offered without the lithographed nativity scene, is labeled “No. 4½” in Stock catalogues of the 1920s. Two boxes are illustrated below, neither of which names the maker. The one on the left identifies the chime as “No. 610,” indicating that it was probably marketed by a firm other than Stock. The box on the right, with “Made in Germany” on the lid, and accompanied by an instruction sheet in English, indicates that it was meant for the British and/or American markets. Note also the illustration of the chime taken from a 1927 German Christmas catalogue, priced at 1 Mark 5 Pfennigs.




No. 2: “Krippe mit Engelgeläut” (Nativity with Angel Chime)

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Among the rarest and most interesting of the Stock Christmas chimes is this combination “Krippe mit Engelgeläut” (Nativity scene with angel chime), or, as it is often labelled on original boxes, "Weihnachts-Krippe" (Christmas Nativity Scene). Unlike most of the Adrian & Stock chimes,
Click for bigger picture. No. 2 was intended for tabletop use only, or for display beneath a Christmas tree. Originally produced ca. 1910, by the 1920s there were two versions of this chime.

No. 2A. In this, the earlier and cheaper model No. 2A, a standard angel chime sits atop a nativity scene of lithographed tin, with cutouts of the kings and shepherds; motive power for the impeller is provided by two candles in front, and two behind. The illustrations below include an example of the chime; two boxes (the one on the left probably dating from the launch of the chime ca. 1910, the one on the right from the 1920s); the original 1910 instruction sheet; and a page from a 1927 German Christmas catalogue, showing the chime priced at 1 Mark 95 Pfennigs. Note that in the catalogue illustration the chime has been assembled incorrectly: the two central candle holders ought to be at the back! (30 x 22 cm., base 21 x 9 cm.)

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No. 2B.
In the more elaborate and expensive model 2B, two candles ingeniously suspended behind the façade power the impeller, which moves not only the angels above, but also a carousel of the Three Kings below, so that they seem to pass in procession before the Holy Family. The illustrations show an example from the 1920s, which features a colorful ring of lithograph angels instead of a plain impeller, and a base designed as a holder for candy or chocolate. The name of the wholesaler (bicycle manufacturer August Stukenbrok) appears on the box, but the Stock name does not: a marketing ploy which allowed Stock to expand their market for these and other toys. This example includes the rare original instruction sheet. (32 x 22 cm., base = 22 x 8 cm.)


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No. 3/No. 6: “Engelsgeläut” (Angel Chime) (33.5 x 15 cm.)

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Below are three examples of the standard “cheap” angel chime offered beginning in the 1920s, and produced by the Stock firm and its successor Paul Hartkopf well into the 1960s. All of them re-use the central star motif originally designed for the 1905 "“Engel-Weihnachts-Geläut" (No. 0, above).   




No. 3 features a variant of the standard Stock lithographed Nativity scene in the central star ornament, and gold angels. The illustrations include a woodcut of this chime, reproduced from a 1929 Adrian & Stock catalogue. The design of the box dates this example to the 1940s or 1950s.

No. 3A features a Father Christmas or “Weihnachtsmann” figure accompanied by cherubs, and silver "floating angels." This example was probably also produced by Stock's successor Paul Hartkopf in the 1940s or 1950s.

No. 6 is a later and even cheaper variant of the No. 3 series, having only two candles, and a simple, round baseplate instead of folding wire candle-holders. As the box indicates, this particular chime was imported to the US by the Shackman company of New York. The instruction sheet states "W.-Germany," which dates the chime to sometime after WWII, and thus to the period of Stock's successor Paul Hartkopf.


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No. 5: “Weihnachtsgeläute” (Christmas Chimes) (32 x 18 cm.)

By the 1920s, the original Stock Engelgeläut had diversified into a range of forms, of which model series No. 5 was the most elaborate. It came in two versions:


No. 5. The fancier of the two models (usually designated simply as “No. 5”) featured two pairs of chimes, and an impeller incorporating a ring of lithographed angels, with a banner announcing in German, “Glory to God in the Highest.” The colorful lithographic nativity scene is adapted from the “Krippe mit Engelgeläut” model series No. 2. The illustration at right below is reproduced from a 1931 German toy catalogue, courtesy of fellow collector Eva Friedrich.

No. 5A. No. 5A, illustrated below, was a simpler and cheaper version of No. 5. It had only two chimes, and it used the standard Stock impeller and angels. Some boxes for chime No. 5A incorporate the rarely-seen stamped Adrian & Stock logo, partly visible at upper right in the photo second from the right below. Because Adrian & Stock distributed their chimes through a number of different Solingen firms, the Stock name and mark is generally not found on the pieces, or their packaging.




No. 12: “Knusperhäuschen” (Gingerbread House) (26.5 x 22 cm., base = 22 x 8 cm.)

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Also dating from the 1920s, this Stock chime features the story of H
änsel and Gretel, which in Germany is strongly associated with the Christmas season — an association echoed in America, by the way, in the holiday popularity of gingerbread houses. The design is very similar to that of the elaborate Nativity chime No. 2B, but here the impeller powers a tableau in which the old witch chases the children in and out of the Gingerbread House. Like No. 2B, this chime also has a candy-box base. The base is usually found in plain green; this variant has an attractive lithograph pattern of grass, flowers and mushrooms. Examples like this, in as-new condition and with an original box, are a rare survival. Also shown is a reproduction from the 1910 Stock toy catalogue, showing an earlier, non-chiming version of this toy, not in my collection — yet.





The Adrian & Stock firm was bought out in 1933 by Paul Hartkopf, who continued production of selected Stock angel chime models (notably No. 5A, and the cheap versions of Engelsgeläut No. 3) until the late 1960s. At the dissolution of the Paul Hartkopf company a large number of these chimes remained unsold, and have since found their way into the market. They turn up quite often on eBay, in as-new condition, and in original boxes. 


For More Pictures and Information, Visit:


Introduction & History


Gallery Page One

Adrian & Stock and the Origins of the "Angel Chime"


Gallery Page Two

Other Pre-WWII Chimes


Gallery Page Three

"Swedish Pattern" and Other Post-WWII Angel Chimes



Please note: the chimes illustrated on this site are from the author's personal collection, and they are not for sale. For those wanting to buy
particular chimes illustrated here, eBay is the best source. The author welcomes comments, additions and corrections, particularly information on manufacturers and variant models, as well as advertisements and entries
in contemporary catalogs.

Eric Holzenberg