Archive for the ‘toy’ Category

Toys for the holidays

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Well, the votes are in and the absolute favorite item featured in The New York Times article from last week was the Cold painted cast lead dog figure, c.1930. I received numerous comments and emails on this piece, including “The dog is my favorite, it is almost impossibly poignant”, “I especially liked the little dog with the ‘prosthetic’ leg” and “That little dog you have is so much better than any mint-in-the-box action figure or something like that”.

With that in mind and with this being the holiday season, I am including some other toys with inventive repairs that I hope you will enjoy seeing again. Please click on the title to see the original post with information and additional photos.

Cast iron horse drawn ladder wagon, c.1900

German doll head pen wiper, c.1900

Toy cast iron cannon, c.1880

Googly doll door stop, c.1930

Staffordshire child’s mug, c.1840

Happy Holidays and I look forward to sharing more examples from my collection with you in 2011!

German doll head pen wiper, c.1900

Monday, May 17th, 2010

What do you do when a bisque doll’s body breaks? Naturally you turn the unbroken doll head in to a pen wiper! At least that is exactly what someone did in the early 1900’s to recycle a broken toy.

Unmarked German bisque doll head with a human hair wig, stationary glass eyes, painted lashes, eyebrows & mouth

Home made pen wipers were common household items and were used to remove excess ink from dip pens. Once the ink was on the page, a paper blotter was used to soak in the excess ink so it would not smear. This pen wiper measures 3-1/2″ tall

Below is an illustration from a Victorian craft book, showing how to make a decorative pen wiper, with the following description: “Girls are always trying to find something which they can make to delight their papas, and a gay little pen-wiper with fresh uninked leaves rarely comes amiss to a man who likes an orderly writing-table”

Photo courtesy of KnitHeaven

Toy cast iron cannon, c.1880

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

A well worn English miniature cannon from the late 19th century shows it was much loved for many years. A Victorian boy perhaps found this under his Christmas tree and played with it until the delicate base became detached, leaving the sturdy cannon barrel abandoned.

The boy’s father, grandfather, friend, or the boy himself must have whittled the crude base out of a piece of scrap wood and attached the iron barrel using two pieces of heavy wire. A coat of brown paint completed the repair and although the cannon looks nothing at all like the unbroken original, it is still highly functional and no doubt brought joy to the original owner.

Cannon in its new incarnation with replacement wood base measures 6-1/2″ long.

The underside reveals pitted metal wire and and an unfinished wood surface.

This toy cast iron ship’s signal cannon from the early 1800’s shows what the original base on my cannon might have looked like.

Photo courtesy of Land and Sea Collection

Cast iron horse drawn ladder wagon, c.1900

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A small cast iron fragment is all that remains of an elaborate miniature horse drawn ladder wagon. Someone loved their toy almost “to death” and I am grateful to whoever nailed the remains to a scrap of wood, breathing new life in to their cherished plaything.

Cast iron toys were extremely popular in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as they were easy to mass produce. Durable as they were, cast iron was still likely to snap if misused.

A single bent nail holds the 8-1/2″ long American toy upright. This has got to be one of the most poignant toys with inventive repairs I have ever seen and I am amazed that it survived over one hundred years.

Intact wagon, shown in all of its splendor, with horses, firemen and removable ladders. The back end & wheels are all that remains of my extraordinary “make-do” toy.

Photo courtesy of Live Auctioneers

Cold painted cast lead dog figure, c.1930

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A simple yet remarkable home repair using just a small nail and short length of wire to replace a tiny toy dog’s missing leg. I find vintage toys with inventive repair rather poignant and I am always glad to see that someone bothered to repair the plaything, rather than discard it.

Dog measures just 2″ wide and 2” high and is incised “France” on belly with a paper label marked “46”.

Recently, a friend named the toy canine “Lucky”, but I think I am “lucky” to have adopted this stray dog with a most effective inventive repair!