|HOBBIES — The Magazine for Collectors, January, 1943
Children's Toys of
By Thelma Shull
TOYS made during the 19th
century are collectable items for adults of today. The toys of earlier years
were not all of such simplified form and mechanism
as one would ordinarily suppose.
early days of Victoria's long reign, children played with dolls of wood
and of wax, balls, kites, hoops, and tin-barreled spring-guns which could
propel a skewer for 20 feet. Jumping Jacks, rocking horses, Noah's Arks,
and toy soldiers were as popular then as they have continued to be through
the following years. Miniature millinery shops complete
with bonnets and salesmen, dolls' theaters, picture galleries, and
dolls' houses were made for the children of wealthy parents. These tiny
models, complete to the last detail, were made in Denmark, Italy and
Austria, and probably other countries, too; but
the majority of them came from Germany.
At Oberammergau, Christmas
toys were made — including church altars,
tiny mangers, wise men, and wooden figures holding candelabra which
brightened the festive season when the candles
were lighted. Hand-colored paper dolls, each having eight or ten dresses,
were printed in Germany during the first half of the century. In the United
States, paper dons were made by Randolph in 1856
and McLoughlin Brothers about 1860. Spun-glass houses, castles, full-rigged
ships and shepherds with their flocks were made by early glass-blowers
of America as toys for their own children and those of their friends.
1850's, a mechanical conjurer or
magician operated by clock-work was exhibited at
Boulogne. A jeweler spent eight years perfecting this automaton. This
mechanical wonder juggled balls and could make them disappear, produced
goblets out of thin air, rolled his eyes and bowed modestly to his audience.
Later handiwork of the jeweler was a number of
mechanically operated birds which flew a short distance and sang sweetly.
1855, Theroude of France made a number of
automata. He had a goat which wagged its ears, a rabbit
that digested by clockwork, and a doll
which played the guitar while other dolls danced the polka; The toy-maker
Giroux was making dolls which said Papa and Mama. Bontem, another
manufacturer, made an artificial aviary. This was a miniature garden with a
flowing brook and birds that sang and hopped from bough to bough.
1860's, toy telegraphs and electrical machines of various kinds were deluxe
playthings. There were also microscopes, magic lanterns,
dissolving views and endless modifications of the kaleidoscope. The
kaleidoscope, a popular toy for several generations,
was invented in 1817 by Sir David Brewster. It quickly received adult
recognition and was often kept in the parlor.
The finest kaleidoscopes were mounted on swiveled stands. The myriad pieces
of glass, which formed intriguing de- signs as the disc was slowly turned,
assumed an endless succession of patterns. These
bits of glass were spiral shaped, or were tiny formations
similar to shells or miniature hollow balls
with a drop of water inside, much more interesting than the flat pieces of
glass used in modern kaleidoscopes. \
A miscellaneous assortment of
toys was made from India-rubber and gutta-percha. While in earlier days
,balls had been made of sheepskin filled with hay, in the 1860's there were
balls of caoutchouc, which is another name for rubber. The balls were made
in all sizes, some as small as a walnut and others almost as large as our
modern basketball. Some were of solid rubber while others were hollow. Doll
heads were also made of rubber.
carved wooden parrots, made in the 1860's, could utter wild screams at the
instigation of their youthful owners. Mice and rats ran across the room by
means of clockwork hidden within. Carts and wagons were drawn by horses set
to clockwork. Frogs leaped and croaked, kittens
lapped milk from a saucer, and birds perched and fluttered their wings.
Metal tops would spin for 20 minutes or more at a time. There were toys
called prismatic bubbles, aurora bubbles, Pharaoh's serpents, and Chinese
the 1870's, toys much in evidence were magic
lanterns, dolls, performing animals, money safes, tin soldiers, magnetic
toys, .and model locomotives with passenger cars and tracks. Some of these
small locomotives were driven by the flame of an alcohol
lamp. The oval track was often as much as 25 feet in length.
V1illage of St. Ulrich, in the Southern Tyrol, wood-carving was the work of
practically the entire population. Toys were made in great numbers and dolls
were their specialty. Each family in the Village had its own work; some
carved, some painted, others did the gilding, etc. They worked from vivid
memories kept sharp through constant practice. One family
might make the lions, tigers and camels while another made the sheep,
oxen and deer. Still another family made the
birds, and others the tiny men and women. When the animals and figures had
been carved, they were taken to still other families who did the coloring.
girl at St. Ulrich painted dolls for a farthing (half a cent) a dozen. She
deftly added black eyes, eyebrows and hair, vermillion cheeks, rose-colored
lips, red shoes and white stockings. Her sister and mother were also
painters. Her father was a carver of dolls and horses.
gentleman of St. Ulrich made rocking-horses, as
the sign painted over the door of his shop plainly showed. He turned out at
least a thousand every year. He also made little carts on
wheels and numerous animals in white wood. Most of these smaller animals he
left unpainted because of the probability of their future owners wanting to
eat the paint.
Purger and Herr Insam were owners of the largest toy warehouses in
this city. Dolls made in St. Ulrich
measured from an inch in length up to nearly three feet. Most of them were
jointed and only a few were painted. The two-inch size was a
very popular length. One merchant of St. Ulrich
bought 30,000 dolls in
the two-inch size every week through-out the year!
He distributed them to the far corners of the globe. Each skilful worker
could turn out 20 dozen small figures in a day. Aside from dolls and Noah's
Arks, rocking-horses and carts, the people in this city made complete armies
of wooden soldiers, well-stocked farm-yards, dolls' furniture, and wooden
teacups and saucers.
motion, such as railroads, etc., were the specialty of the people of
Biberach, in Wurtemberg. The population of the city of Furth, about six
miles from Nuremberg, was entirely devoted to the making of Noah's Arks,
puzzles, and other wooden toys
During the 1870's, in America, Ives, Blakeslee and Company of
Bridgeport, Conn., was making mechanical toys, as
was also the American Mechanical Toy Company of
New York. G. L. Wild and Brother of Washington, D.
C., made musical dancing toy attachments for
pianos. Dan Dudley, at Philadelphia, made board games such as dominoes and
chess. The India Rubber Comb Company of New York City was making hard rubber
doll heads. W. D. Goodwin of New Haven, Conn.,
manufactured toy money-safes. These banks recorded each coin as it was
dropped in. Mrs. R. .E. Jenkins, located at Bordertown,
N. J., specialized in
making dolls' shoes.
American-made toys of this
period included the automatic bubble-blower —
a mechanical figure which put a pipe in the suds, blew the bubbles,
and jerked the pipe to dislodge them so that they
would float away. Another contrivance was two doll gymnasts who exercised
with boxing-gloves. Still another was a
gymnast who walked a tight rope on his
hands. This was operated by cranks and a clock movement. A dancing doll was
operated by means of an electro-magnet. A mechanical toy for very young
children was two dolls pushing a trundle bed. They held rattles in their
hands which added to their attractiveness.
of 1879 ran to excessive prices. In London, too,
they were high. Dolls were priced at $15 and up. Clocks for the mantels of
doll houses really worked, and the miniature pianofortes could he played.
Waxen ladies drank their tea from tiny cups of real china.
Parisian dolls were numbered and their clothing-
including shoes, hats, dresses, etc.— could be
ordered according to number. The milliners and seamstresses of Paris all
made doll clothes to correspond in size with the
numbers, so that shopping for a doll was a simple matter and a pleasant one,
there were a number of fine mechanical toys on the market. Nuremberg, famous
toy-making center of Germany, produced merry-go-rounds, with bicycle riders
on the old high-seaters being the chief per-
formers. Some merry-go-rounds had a music box hidden within, which tinkled
merrily as the riders circled above. Another musical toy was a dovecot which
played as the birds appeared to eat. Still another
mechanical toy from Nuremberg was a span of four white horses driven
by a bareback rider with whip and reins in hand.
This moved forward by means of clockwork hidden in the box under the seat.
Clockwork toys of musicians playing musical
instruments were made in both Germany and France around 1900.
banks rightfully belong with the toys of Victorian
days. These practical devices were made of tin, iron, pottery, glass, wood,
and Pennsylvania chalk ware. Among the still iron banks were those
resembling horses and horses' heads, pigs, dogs, cats, lions, circus clowns,
Santa Claus, buildings, money safes, and others too numerous to mention.
Among the pottery banks were colorful cottages from the Staffordshire
district in England. There were also pottery pigs,
Rockinghan cats of mottled brown, dogs, jugs, books and teapots.
There was a tin bank shaped like a drum and a glass bank
which was a replica of the Liberty Bell. Wooden banks were shaped
like barrels, buildings, beehives, etc.
Iron mechanical banks, most popular of all types of toys with present-day
collectors, with the exception of dolls, were made
in great numbers between 1875 and 1900. There was
the Sleighride, Merry-Go-Round, William Tell, Croquet Player, Girl Skipping
Rope, North Pole Bank and dozens of others.
collector of children's toys has a wide field in which to explore. Because
of the many types of toys available, specialization is most practical for