The thread regarding the Webb Toy Miniature mower where the ebay seller is trying to pass it off as a salesman sample for $10,000, has prompted me to look closely at an 8th scale mower I have, which I believe may well be a genuine salesman’s sample.
Salesman samples are scaled-down versions of real products used to demonstrate features to retailers or potential customers, these miniature goods were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as they were easily transportable by travelling salespeople and allowed dealers to display a variety of items in their showrooms that could then be ordered directly from a manufacturer. Unlike toy versions of household items aimed at children, many salesman's samples were highly detailed with working parts so they could be used to demonstrate full functionality. They were particularly popular in the USA.
I was aware that my example appeared very accurate, but today have removed a sidewheel to reveal the full working gears, including the cylinder pinion, and even a minute working pawl. I have taken a few images to show the miniature screws holding the bottom blade in place, and the very true wood/metal work on the handle.
Unfortunately there are no markings to indicate the mower manufacturer, but perhaps it was just a generic sidewheel.
Some salesman samples were a 3rd or even ½ scale, so there is often confusion with toy mowers of a similar size, many 1930’s cast sidewheel toy mowers, examples that I have, are often described incorrectly in US auctions as salesman samples.