Basic Painting for Flat Figures or Zinn Figuren
History of Flat Figures / Flat Tin Soldiers
Basic Painting and History of.......


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Engraved into a piece of slate, the "zinnfigur" (tin figure), or flat figure is a two dimensional freestanding miniature, and is unique
in every aspect which distinguishes it from its round counterpart. The Flat, originating in Germany, has and does portray history
from its beginning to the present as well as animals, fantasy, art, etc.. While the Flat has had its origins prior to the 13th century as
a toy for children, it in its present form is a beautifully sculpted artwork awaiting color to be added to its form.

Many early examples of the Flat Figure are preserved in museums throughout
Europe, such as the Cultural History Museum, Magdeburg, The Plassenburg,
and Kulmbach. Some of these examples date to 1279. During the middle ages
this unique art form became more popular as play things for children. More
German craftsmen (pewterers) began producing little tin figures of farming life
and animals from their leftover scraps of metal. Soon demand exceeded supply
and in 1578 the Council of Nuremberg authorized pewterers to make tin
figures as children's toys. From a fledgling industry, production grew,
eventually being exported throughout Europe from Germany. During the 17th
century the figures found their way into the hands of Heads of State's children.
Popularity grew and in the 18th century Nuremburg became the toy capital of
the world.
Flats during this time varied in sizes and had somewhat clumsy appearance, lacking in anatomical accuracy. It was the Hilpert's,
Johann Gottfried Hilpert, his brother Johann Georg and son Johann Wolfgang, who set the standard for the tin figure after setting
up business in Nuremberg in 1760. They transformed the flat from a crude miniature into a work of art. Their creations were
celebrated and a famous group of monkeys produced by them can be viewed in the Germanische National Museum, Nuremberg.
Earnst Peter Heinrichsen, arguably one of the most celebrated pioneers of the world of flats today, started his apprenticeship with the
pewterer Christoph Ammon. In 1839 Herr Heinrichsen started his own business in Nuremberg carrying on through three
generations. The 30mm scale flat was introduced by Herr Heinrichsen in 1848 which proved its popularity but was attractive and
inexpensive to produce. Herr Heinrichsen was succeeded by his son Wilhelm in 1869 and then by his grandson in 1908. Under the
direction of these three, the company became the largest tin figure manufacturer in the world. Their company covered all subjects
from the American West, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Ancients from Troy through Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians and
Crusaders. Producing over 17,000 different molds, millions of figures were sold and considered inexpensive at 30 pennies for a box
of 10 cavalry or 20 foot figures.
With the advent of the Great War (WWI), factories in Nuremberg, Furth and Hanover had to be closed down. What remained were
faced with higher costs in material and labor. Wholsalers applied pressure to keep prices down. Colorful pageantry was being
replaced by field gray and khaki. This industry survived by the appetite of the collectors. The collector's shaped the scope of the
industry into what it is today. Collector's became more discerning in their demands for historical accuracy, anatomy, animation which
the manufacturers and engravers now made into miniature works of art.
This art form continued into the 60's with the works being edited by Werner Droste, Rolf Grunewald and Dr. Peter Dangschat,
Peter Ewald Kovar and Gehard Rucker. It was also in the 60's that the first "German and International Tin Fugure Borse" was held.
This is now continued regularly every odd year in Kulmbach, Germany.
The 70's brought new editors; Fechner, Goldberg, Oldhafer, Segom and Reiger, Reibold and tappert. With Germany divided many
eastern engravers were unknown. Eventually works from the east filtered through and the beautiful works of Franz Karl Mohr
became known and treasured. The 80's brought reunification and a long list of new engravers such as Wolfgang Windisch of
Western Miniatures.
With beautifully animated, highly detailed and anatomically correct subjects these tiny miniatures are treasured by collectors and
painted with fervor by excellent artists who treat the work as painting on canvas. The art form arguably may have reached its pinnacle
with exquisitely rendered works around the world and in particular from Michaek Taylor, Walter Fischer and Greg Difranco.