Small Talk

Through Thick and Tin

Through Thick and Tin

Who doesn’t love fresh frog legs?! This chicken and goose that make up this pull toy sure can’t seem to share! From the mid-19th century until World War I, cheaply mass produced tin toys known as “penny toys” were very popular. In the years following the Great War, however, competition in the market increased and toys became larger and more technologically complex in order to keep children’s attention.

T/m’s circa 1930 Gebruder Einfalt Chicken and Goose Pull Toy is an example of one such company’s transition to larger tin toys. Nuremburg’s Gebruder Einfalt (later Technofix) was founded in 1922 by two brothers, Georg and Johann. While many of Gebruder Einfalt’s early toys were erratic wind-up toys and wheeled pull toys, they eventually found their niche making racecars, trains and other transportation toys that reflected changing technology.

Stitches of the Past

Stitches of the Past

For some toys it can be somewhat easy to uncover their history. Consulting old catalogs, collector books, company histories, and even personal anecdotes from their owners help historians like us at T/m to tell the story of a special toy. For some toys, however, their past is harder to uncover because they were not mass produced and may have been “loved to death.”

An exhibit at the Mingei International Museum explores the storied past of some of America’s most fascinating and mysterious playthings: black dolls. The exhibit showcases over 100 unique handmade African American dolls from the collection of Deborah Neff. The dolls represent a rich handcrafting tradition spanning from 1860 to 1930. Some dolls in the exhibit are also paired with an antique photograph depicting them with their young owners. The dolls on display depict a variety of emotions and give viewers a rare glimpse into the lives of their creators and owners.
Photo: Courtesy Mingei International Museum.

The Thief’s Delight

The Thief’s Delight

File this one under “dream job!” Did you know that the V&A Museum has a Games Designer in Residence? Last October, Sophie George completed six months of research and created an interactive iPad experience to accompany an exhibit. The game is now available to the public in the Apple App Store.

The game, called “Strawberry Thief,” draws inspiration from a textile by the same name. A notable contributor to the British textile revival in the 1800s, William Morris’s wallpaper and textile designs transcended his time. His famous organic, repeating patterns continue to influence designers and artists today. Players and visitors to the museum can use their figure tips to draw and color the fabric’s intricate patterns. When the work is done, the image zooms out revealing the re-worked Morris piece in its entirety.
Photo: Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum. © Sophia George.

Amazing Glazing

Amazing Glazing

Whether you pronouce it “veys” or “vahz,” you’ve got to admin these 1:12 scale vases are really something. Inspired by the traditional Talavera pottery of Puebla, Mexico, these porcelain works were created by Le Chateau Interiors, a company comprised of miniature artists and painters Frank Hanley and Jeffrey Guéno. Although nearly identical, the two vases were actually made several years apart from each other.

The tradition of making Talavera pottery in Puebla dates back to the 16th century when it was introduced by immigrants from Spain. After being molded and fired in a kiln, these ceramic jars, or tibores, received a white layer of tin oxide glaze called estaño, and then the intricate blue design painted on top. During the final kiln firing, both layers of glaze became fused, giving the vases their smooth finish.

Getting the Inside Scoop

Getting the Inside Scoop

Ever wonder what exactly makes Jack jump out of a perfectly good box? Or thought about how a plush Elmo masters the hokey pokey? The answers to these important toy questions and more can be found in Toys: The Inside Story , a traveling exhibit developed by the Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont.

Fourteen interactive stations allow museum visitors to discover the basics of toy animation through the hands-on manipulation of gears and circuits. Visitors can build a series of linkages that make Hungry Hippo chomp or learn about the wires that guide an Etch A Sketch’s drawing line. One station reveals how Operation’s Cavity Sam’s nose lights up when pretend surgery goes awry! Toys has traveled to venues nationwide, and will open at the Tellus Science Museum this summer.

Photo: Gary Hodges – www.jonreis.com

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