Photographs of Toys from the Last 100 Years


The origin of toys is prehistoric. Dolls, animals, soldiers, and representations of tools used by adults are often found at archaeological sites. Toys excavated from the Indus valley civilization (3010-1500 BCE) include small carts, whistles shaped like birds, and toy monkeys which could slide down strings. Ancient Egyptian children played with dolls, made from stone, pottery, or wood, that had wigs and movable limbs. In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, children played with dolls made of wax or terracotta, as well as yo-yos. As a right of passage, when Greek children came of age, it was customary to sacrifice the toys of their childhood to the Gods.

During the Age of Enlightenment, when children were seen as individuals rather than extensions of their household, the variety and number of toys manufactured flourished. John Spilsbury invented the first jigsaw puzzle in 1767 to help children learn geography. Other popular toys included hoops, wagons, kites, and puppets.

In the nineteenth century, popular toys were puzzles, books, card and board games, and had educational purposes. Religiously themed toys, such as Noah’s Ark and animals, were also popular. The growing middle class meant that children had more leisure time and more time to play with toys.In the twentieth century, real wages were rising in Western society and even working-class families could afford toys for their children.

Toys have been an important part of childhood. Children discover their identity, strengthen their bodies, learn cause and effect, explore relationships, and practice skills that would be necessary in adulthood.

John Spilsbury’s Europe divided into its kingdoms, etc. (1766). He created the jigsaw puzzle for educational purposes, and called them “Dissected Maps”. Wikipedia
Boy riding a mechanical rocking horse in 1880’s Stockholm. Wikipedia
1895- Toy Sheep and Hoop. thebirdfeednyc
1890- Ball and Hoop. thebirdfeednyc
Children playing Pilgrim Street Newcastle c.1890. Wikipedia
1897- Toy Catalogue. thebirdfeednyc
1900- Toy Horse. thebirdfeednyc
1904- Tea Party. thebirdfeednyc
1905- Doll. thebirdfeednyc
1906- Doll and Toy Donkey. thebirdfeednyc
1908- Rocking Horse. thebirdfeednyc
1910- Carnegie Playground on 5th Ave, NYC. thebirdfeednyc
1910- NYC Playground. thebirdfeedncy
1914- Pedal Car. thebirdfeednyc
1917- Eaton’s Catalogue. thebirdfeednyc
Early 1920s- Toy Boat. thebirdfeednyc
Mildred Panagos (age 7 or 8) seated in a toy Spirit of St. Louis airplane. Photograph by unknown, 1927. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints collections.
1928- Toy Car. thebirdfeednyc
Boy on a tricycle. On reverse: Dec 30, 1928 2 yrs- 3 mos- 9 days. thebirdfeednyc
1929- Keystone Toys Advertisement. thebirdfeednyc
1930- Doll. thebirdfeednyc
1936- Tea Party. thebirdfeednyc
1937- Toy Car. thebirdfeednyc
1937- Toy Car. thebirdfeednyc
Paula Wood with pull-along duck in a garden of 8 Holifast Road, 1945. thebirdfeednyc
1950- Lincoln Logs Advertisement. thebirdfeednyc
1950- View-Master. thebirdfeednyc
1952- Huffy Bike Advertisement. thebirdfeednyc
1954- America’s Top Ten Hasbro Toys. thebirdfeednyc
Slinky Ad- 1957. thebirdfeednyc