Children’s Toys

Photo by Chris Travers
Child’s Doll and Toy Piano

Piano: wood, stained and painted
Maker: A. Schoenhut & Co., Philadelphia, PA
American, circa 1873
Gift of Mrs. G.W. Stephens, 83.7.2
Doll: bisque painted head and hands; leather body; wood chip stuffing; human hair; silk and cotton dress
Maker: […]hein, Germ[…]
German, late 1890s
Gift of Emily Norman, 80.16.20b

The donor recounted that the clothing of this doll was intimately tied to her own childhood. The lace collar was from a dress she had worn as a child, the hair ribbons and sash from her mother’s clothing. The doll’s hair was made from her mother’s tresses.

The toy piano bears a resemblance to our full-scale melodeon (circa 1862-65). The keys strike a xylophone hidden in the body. A. Schoenhut & Co. (1872-1935) began manufacturing toy pianos in 1872. The piano was the property of Mrs. W.E. Walsh who came to San Diego in 1894.

Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear

Wool plush; wood chip stuffing
American, first quarter 20th century
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Feyerherm in memory of Dorothy M. and Stephen Toth, 93.61.24

Perhaps there is no more iconic reminder of childhood than the Teddy Bear. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, a hunter and naturalist, refused to shoot a bedraggled bear. A journalist wrote of the incident and a political cartoonist drew “Teddy’s Bear.” At almost the same time in Germany, Margarete Steiff produced a plush bear with jointed limbs. The rest, as they say, is history. Bears became the toy of choice. The following is an excerpt from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. 1908 catalog:

‘Teddy Bears’ are all the rage. The best plaything ever invented. These bears are the most sensible and serviceable toys ever put before the public. Not a fad or campaign article, but something which has come to stay on merit alone. An article which will afford your children and even yourself great amusement and lasting pleasure. Made of the finest quality imported bear plush, they closely resemble the little cubs. They are fully jointed and will assume countless different positions. Each bear has a natural voice produced by slight pressure on the front of body, and they are practically unbreakable. We offer these bears in four sizes. Natural cinnamon color only. The larger the size the better proportioned are the bears. Order one of these bears at once for your boy or girl and you will find that no toy which you could select would give them more actual pleasure and entertainment.

Tea Service
Child’s Tea Service

Earthenware: transfer printed
English, circa 1900
Maker: C. Allerton & Sons
Gift of Beth Paynter, 79.1.12

A doll’s tea party was a way in which children could imitate and consequently learn the social behavior of their parents. This tea service, scaled down to child sized hands, includes a service for six. The printed design depicts the quintessential puppet personalities of Punch and Judy. Charles Allerton and Sons, Longton, Staffordshire were in business from 1859 to 1912. They were known for their toy tea sets and their Punch and Judy pattern. In 1908, a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog advertised 8 different types of children’s tea sets: 4 in china, 1 in tin, and 3 in silver. One of the china sets, similar in form and described as decorated with scenes from fairy tales, sold for only $1.

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