1939 – Mechanical Elephants by Messmore & Damon (American)
Messmore & Damon Mechanical Elephant.
(Sourced from the Messmore & Damon catalogue.)
This mechanical elephant does everything but walk!
Although Messmore & Damon had been around for some time, the interest here is around the animated elephants. There were early mammoths made for The World a Million Years Ago for the Chicago Fair, but the animated one of interest here was produced for the 1939 New York World's Fair. There are claims that up to 40 were built. The lelephant could lift and drop its trunk, raise and lower its head, flap its ears and move its tail. Alas it could not walk.
(Source: Billboard 8 April, 1950)
For sale, only $1,600 in 1954! (Source: Billboard 30 Jan, 1954)
They were even found for sale in England!
(Source: Miami News 26 Jan 1956)
Maybe those original tusks were too pointy and dangerous; several examples have them shortened.
The late Joe McDonnal who established "The Ruins" Restaurant in Seattle.
A photo out of Flickr showing the elephant.