Small Talk Tag: Imagination

Nettie’s Dollhouse Classroom

Dollhouse classroom

When young Nettie Wells packed up her dollhouse for safe keeping, she probably never imagined it would end up in a museum someday. The contents include some really fun accessories that give us a look into how she played with the small house and her doll Gracie in the late nineteenth century.

One of our favorite accessories kept inside is this make-believe class attendance roster indicating Nettie played school with her doll Gracie. The cover of the little booklet reads, “Mrs. N. M. Wells” in perfect teacherly cursive. Inside, the names of Nettie’s pretend pupils are listed. Gracie of course had perfect attendance, which is pretty predictable when your mother is also your teacher!

Reporting for Duty

g.i. joe action figures

In 1964, Hasbro, Inc. introduced G.I. Joe: America’s Movable Fighting Man. Reportedly, Hasbro designers borrowed guns and rifles from the National Guard and even asked generals for top-secret materials in order to get all the details right! The company originally created three prototypes of their fighting man: Rocky the marine, Skip the sailor (not to be confused with Barbie’s sister Skipper), and Ace the pilot. Later, they settled on the universal name of G.I. Joe. The G.I. stands for “Government Issue,” a generic term for U.S. soldiers.

Joe premiered with a version for each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces: Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot, and Action Marine. A very lucky little boy once owned T/m’s 1964 Action Sailor #7600 and many of the uniforms, weapons, and equipment (check them all out on T/m’s website). All of the accessories were interchangeable, which may explain why our Joe is photographed in the last outfit his owner dressed him in: Action Marine uniform #7710.

To Protect and Serve

play cops and robbers

With the Great Depression of the 1930s came a new era of children’s play. Children invented their own games and imaginative worlds, which were sometimes based on radio, film, cartoons or comic book characters. Young boys began to play cops and robbers using toys like these from T/m’s collection.

The owner of the policeman’s billy club recalled going to the movies and reasoned that receiving the gift may have been related to a popular movie at the time. Although a billy club may seem like an odd gift to give a small boy today, the owner reassured T/m staff that, “we were all good policemen.” He also noted that the shrill noise of the whistle would stop any bad guys in their tracks!

Steeped in History: A Tea Party Souvenir

tea party souvenir

You may remember the Emery Bird Thayer Department Store (E.B.T.) from our posts about the Josephine Bird Dollhouse here on Small Talk. The store on Petticoat Lane in downtown Kansas City promised that, “this great store will be here every day, striving to please you with reliable merchandise combined with excellent service.” The store was stocked by buyers who traveled throughout Europe and Asia searching for goods to sell.

Just like many old department stores, E.B.T. had an elaborate tearoom housed in the large mezzanine. In the tearoom the store hosted tea parties for little girls and their dolls. At the end of the party, each girl took home a souvenir cup and saucer. The department store’s tearoom closed shortly after the end of World War II, but not before handing out this 1914 tea party souvenir set made by Royal Bayreuth in Bavaria.  Today, there are several places you can still take your doll for tea and Royal Bayreuth is still making china after more than 200 years. We’ll have more insight into another Royal Bayreuth tea set lined up for Small Talk in the coming months; stick around!

A Pistol from the (Past) Future

Buck Rogers Space Pistol

In 1928, the world was introduced to Buck Rogers, a World War I hero who spent 500 years in a suspended state after exposure to radioactive gas. Rogers awoke as a full-fledged superhero equipped with a futuristic weapon. As his popularity grew, Rogers’s adventures were chronicled in comic books and a radio show.

First sold in 1934, the Buck Rogers XZ-31Rocket Pistol by Daisy Manufacturing Company was one of the first “space guns” ever produced. Its futuristic shape and distinctive lines made it the grandfather of rayguns. The gun had a distinctive “zap” sound and retailed for 50 cents. When it was first offered in Macy’s Department Store, over 2,000 people stood in line to get one!

Page 1 of 212