We like to think that S scale, or what became S scale, was first conceived of in 1896 by Edward Bowness, with his model completed in 1898.
This appears not to be the case, as the following from Locomotive Engineering, Dec. 1893, Vol. 6, No. 12, clearly demonstrates – and look at the fine (scale) flanges! No toy trains here, and live steam to boot.
The accompanying text states:
The Very Smallest Locomotive
We have several times within the last few years given illustrations of extremely small locomotives that were complete in all parts, but that shown in the annexed engraving is the very smallest working locomotive that we have heard about. It was built by a jeweler, and is the property of Mr. W. E. Gallant, Chicago. This elaborate toy is built to run on a track 7/8 inch wide and has a total length of 9 ½ inches with tender included. The cylinders are ½ x 3/8, the driving wheels are 15/16-inch diameter. The boiler is ¾ x 3 inches. The total weight of engine and tender is 9 ½ ounces. Gold, brass, steel, and nickel are the materials of which the engine is made and the pilot is of wood. It is a real working model and spins along in good shape with its own steam, a spirit lamp providing the required heat.
I wonder what happened to this – it is now at least 125 years old?