This lovely flat bottomed wooden and straw work Noah's Ark with 39 wooden animals and people. probably originated from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, c1880.
Noah's Arks were very popular children's toys in the 19th century and most wealthy families would own one, which would be permitted to be played with on a Sunday only!
The majority of Noah's Arks were made in Germany and there were basically three different types. A flat bottom one, pictured here, a round bottom one and a bottom in the shape of a boat. The animals went in and out of the ark via either the roof or a sliding side panel, and were decorated by either painting, lithogaphics or the finest ones were straw work, illustrated here. These antique wood and straw arks were made with individual pieces of straw and would be stained to give a multi coloured effect.
Noah's Arks were not made by big toy companies but in the main it was a cottage industry with families literally making one or two particular types animals hence the different expressions that can be found on the animals faces. Other families would have built the arks and different families would then been painting and decorating them. If you had a large enough family then maybe the whole ark would be made by the family.
Nowadays these antique treen Folk Art Noah's Arks are very collectible and both the arks and the animals are difficult to find.