The well-known JGES 1/75th scale Volkswagen Split Window Beetle model is very collectible. Depending on condition and colour, hefty prices are paid. These, regularly surfacing, JGES models were produced in the former Eastern Germany between 1948 and 1962.

Around 2010, there was a German collector stating that he had seen a JGES with metal axles, whereas the known JGES VWs all have plastic axles. Therefore, most if not all, collectors believed that the metal axles were a later addition. How wrong…..

In the late autumn of 2014, a JGES KdF Wagen with an original certificate issued by the “Staatliches Materialprüfungsamt” in Berlin, Germany in 1939 (the organisation which tested the materials of objects in order to prove that they are indeed made of the materials as stated by the manufacturer) was offered on eBay. This caused a great shock and also some disbelief among collectors. This would mean that JGES was already producing a pre-war (WWII) version VW!

To make a long story short, a German seller had inherited a house and also a warehouse in the former Eastern Germany from his grandfather and in the warehouse he found many pre-war items (mostly non VW related) which were made out of a kind of Bakelite. His grandfather used to work for a company called Kunstharz-Preßwerk Phenoplast Bischoff & Co. in Eberswalde, Germany. This company produced for client’s prototypes of products in Bakelite and/or Celluloid.

Already in 1938, they were asked by the company Escher & Schwarz JGES KG to produce prototypes of the KdF Volkswagen Beetle. The company JGES had big plans to promote and sell the KdF Volkswagen Beetle toys to toys shops all over the country. It is unclear whether JGES had formal ties with the KdF Volkswagen factory and/or cooperated with the factory to produce and sell these toys.

JGES had sets of toys produced for their salesmen to promote the toys among toyshops. But, due to the war, these efforts had to stop, even before they were really started. Many companies (and also Kunstharz-Preßwerk Phenoplast Bischoff & Co.) were forced to produce for warfare and the production of toys seized. They instead produced many Bakelite parts for the VW Kübelwagen and VW Schwimmwagen. They also produced Bakelite insignias and medals for Volkswagenwerk and also for other car manufacturers. When the war came towards the end, it was clear that the Russian troops would dismantle the factories that came into their possession and would ship all machinery to Russia. At this point, the grandfather of the seller and another employee decided to clear the warehouse of Phenoplast full with many car parts, Carl Zeiss Jena microscopes and magnifying glasses and also the inventory of KdF JGES toys. All contents of the warehouse were stored at the grandfather’s place and not touched again until after the death of the grandfather. The German man who inherited that place, initially had no knowledge of the toys. He, over a decade, sold many car parts, microscopes and magnifying glasses. Only in 2014 he realised that some unopened boxes contained JGES KdF Wagen toys. He looked for those JGES toys on eBay, found only the post war JGES toys and started to sell the toys he had found, hoping to realize the prices he had seen on eBay. Only then he realised he had a real treasure, because hundreds of collectors sent him emails asking for the KdF toys. He was so intimidated that he stopped selling the toys, and had only contact with a handful of collectors to whom he sold some plain KdF JGES models. At that time no one knew the wealth of the treasure he had found. He did not disclose that he had found many colourful boxes with KdF era cars, displays, traffic signs, convertibles, sunroof models, caravans, etc. He also found a KdF JGES board game and other KdF era related toys.

We were able to acquire some sets of toys, pictured here on the site for a hefty, but reasonable sum. We then lost contact with him. He is still around, but he decided to try to sell his entire stock for a 7 figure amount. We guess he is still looking to sell them to a collector millionaire…

For your convenience, we have dedicated a complete section for the KdF era JGES only.

There are MANY variations, but please keep in mind that there are only few basic models that have variations according to the following characteristics:

·       Sedan, Convertible or Sunroof models

·       in 6 different colours

·       with or without tow hook

·       with or without open windows

·       with or without VW logo on the hood

·       with or without VW logo on the hubcaps

·       special cars, like Red Cross, Post, Kommandeurwagen, 2-seater Beetle with a loading area, etc.

·       in large coloured boxes mixed with several cars and accessories

·       in small boxes with just the car and/or trailer

Furthermore there are many accessories: like trailers, small and large, boat trailers with boat, several types of caravans, traffic signs and other signs, a car lift, etc.

The actual size of the models is app. 54 mm, which is 1/75th scale. On the large and also the small boxes however, they claim it is in 1/87th scale.

The large boxes each contained a paper insert with the JGES logo and stamp as well as a smaller paper leaflet with a message to the toy shop owners who received these boxes for review only. They were asked to send the boxes back to JGES after 10-14 days, so that these boxes could be send to other potential clients also. JGES also indicated that these show boxes represented a substantial value for JGES.  

It appears that after the war, JGES started to produce the regular VW Split Window Beetle again, using the pre-war moulds. They however only manufactured the plain model; partly because the war related variations could not be produced anymore. But possibly also because of costs reasons.

We can't be sure of actual reasons, as all of the KdF era models and materials discovered, originate from Kunstharz-Preßwerk Phenoplast Bischoff & Co., who manufactured these prototypes and not from JGES, the client, itself. We have no information from the actual JGES archives, which means that we do not know whether JGES started this whole pre-war venture on its own OR backed by another big investor? The costs would have been huge, so one would expect another party to participate. Recently it was discovered that the whole venture was initiated and funded by the DAF (Deutsche Arbeitsfront) who wanted to introduce the KdF Wagen for the German public. For that purpose they had formed in 1938 a separate legal entity called IG KdF-WAGEN PATENTSPIELWAREN AUS BAKELITE & CELLULOID.

  • Manufacturer: JGES
  • Scale: 1/75
  • Length: 54mm
  • Production Era: 1938-40
  • Country: Germany
  • Materials: Bakelite (Phenoplast)
  • Color: Yellow-Cream, Black, Leather-brown, Dark-Brown, Coffee-Brown, Grey

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