Small Talk Archive: December 2013

We Challenge You To A Duel!

Dueling Pistols

Rooted in the medieval code of chivalry, the practice of dueling to resolve a conflict or defend personal honor has been around for centuries. In America, we often hear about the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. To keep the stakes even for both members of a duel, gun manufacturers began creating custom dueling pistol sets that included identical pistols.

This 1/12 scale miniature set by Eric Pearson reduces the size, but not the artistry. Nestled in a velvet-lined case, these pistols are so precisely calibrated that they are actually functional! That’s right, if you loaded these minuscule shooters with gun powder and a tiny musket ball, they would actually fire. Don’t worry, we haven’t tried it; we’re too nervous that mom’s premonition might come true: “you’ll shoot your eye out!

Toys with a Past

FAO Schwarz

Did you know Monopoly started as a game to teach people how terrible it was to have a money-gouging landlord? Or that the Etch-a-Sketch debuted in France as the Magic Screen? Or how about that the Slinky was originally supposed to cushion naval vessel instruments?!

Join Christopher Bensch, Vice President for Collections at The Strong, home of the National Toy Hall of Fame and National Museum of Play, as he explores the history of Hall of Fame inductees at FAO Schwarz. We’re guessing only Santa’s workshop has more toys than FAO Schwarz!

Slow Down This Season With Slow Toys

Slow Toy Awards 2013

Twenty-five years after the Slow Food Movement gained traction, filling bellies with delicious traditional and regional cuisine that utilized the local ecosystem, the Slow Toys Movement was formed by Thierrey Bourret in the United Kingdom. According to Bourret, slow toys encourage traditional play, boost creative thinking, inspire the development of one’s own imagination, are not made of plastic, are without batteries, are sold in independent toy shops, are durable, stand the test of time, and are without thousands of functions.

Every year Bourret takes nominations via email and a panel of judges choose the seven top slow toys of the year. 2013’s winners were all made out of wood except for a construction set with metal parts, and plastic cables, gears, and wheel hubs that can be constructed different models. Many of the wooden toys may look familiar, from the train set and building blocks to the doll stroller and tiny tricycle. We love this movement, which elevates beautifully crafted wooden toys and much-loved dollhouses that encourage creativity and imagination!

Come Light the Menorah

Menorahs, William B. Meyers, c. 1940-1947

Similar to Pete Acquisto, William B. Meyers was a renowned silversmith before becoming one of the preeminent miniature silversmiths of the first half of the twentieth century. He began making miniature silver in the late 1920s in addition to his full-time job as owner of William B. Meyers Company. Sadly, his miniature career ended abruptly in 1947 after the death of his wife Helen when he shifted to exclusively crafting religious sterling hollowware including Kiddush cups and menorahs still used by synagogues across the country.

Luckily for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, Meyers crafted these two menorahs before ending his miniature career. Our menorahs are the seven-branched candelabrums used in the Jewish Temple to symbolize the seven days of Creation. Menorahs used to celebrate Hanukkah have nine branches. The eight candles in a row represent the eight nights of Hanukkah; the ninth candle set a little above the others, known as the shamash, lights the other candles.

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