Skip to Navigation | View regular site

Page content
Dollhouse.  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ca. 1820.  Wood, textiles, and other materials.  OH. 53 1/2"; OW: 40”; OD: 21 ½”.

Dollhouse. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ca. 1820. Wood, textiles, and other materials. OH. 53 1/2"; OW: 40”; OD: 21 ½”.

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Rumford II

Toys

Toy ark.  Germany, 1840-1880.  Wood and paint.  OH: 15 1/2"; OL: 23 1/2"; OD: 6 3/4".

Toy ark. Germany, 1840-1880. Wood and paint. OH: 15 1/2"; OL: 23 1/2"; OD: 6 3/4".

Gift of an anonymous donor

Toy ship.  Germany, 1830-1850.  Wood, paint, paper, and string.  OH: 8 1/2"; OL: 8"; OD: 2".

Toy ship. Germany, 1830-1850. Wood, paint, paper, and string. OH: 8 1/2"; OL: 8"; OD: 2".

Gift of an anonymous donor

Doll.  Probably England, ca. 1790.  Wood, gesso, paint, glass, hair, and textiles.  OH: 16”.

Doll. Probably England, ca. 1790. Wood, gesso, paint, glass, hair, and textiles. OH: 16”.

Museum purchase

The Foundation’s toy collection had its genesis in the 1960s with the acquisition of a few examples for use in holiday displays at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Since then the collection has grown purposefully and now encompasses a broad range of materials that illustrate childhood play, toy making, and retailing from the eighteenth century through World War II.

During the nineteenth century, Germany led the world in toy manufactures and exports. American children played with colorful wooden miniatures of Noah’s Ark, toy soldiers, and dolls, all made in German centers but readily available at American stores. By 1900, American toy companies offered real competition to foreign markets, creating, in particular, tin and cast iron toys. Colonial Williamsburg’s toy assemblage is rich in all these materials.

One of the most common toy forms across many centuries is the doll. The Foundation’s collection includes a range of doll types: eighteenth century wooden examples made in England; nineteenth century German dolls of wood, papier-mâché, and china; and nineteenth century American examples by important makers such as Ludwig Greiner and Izannah Walker. Along with dolls, dollhouses were the cherished possessions of wealthier girls. Colonial Williamsburg owns one of the earliest surviving American examples, made for the Morris-Canby-Rumford family in Philadelphia about 1820. Toys made for boys are prominent in the collection as well. Sets of toy soldiers, toy trains, ships, and cast iron fire engines are featured, together with toy horse-drawn vehicles and ships.

Books about Colonial Williamsburg Toys

  • Rountree, Susan H. Dollhouses, Miniature Kitchens, and Shops from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1996.

Footer
 

1-855-756-9516

Quicklinks
Webcams | Podcasts | What’s New | Video

Colonial Williamsburg’s Websites
LEARN www.history.org
VISIT www.colonialwilliamsburg.com
SHOP www.williamsburgmarketplace.com
REVOLUTION www.ouramericanrevolution.org
EDUCATION www.ideaofamerica.org
CITIZENSHIP www.icitizenforum.org

©2014 The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Contact | Privacy | View regular site