Small Talk Tag: Toy

A Primo Premium Dollhouse

Dunham Cocoanut Dollhouse

Remember digging through cereal boxes for the prize inside, or sending in proofs of purchase in exchange for a special premium toy? If so, you will not be surprised to learn that toys and advertising have been intertwined for a very long time. Since the 19th century, companies like Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, and Texaco have teamed up with toy companies to promote their goods.

One of the earliest examples of premium toys is this 1892 dollhouse made by Dunham Manufacturing Company. Don’t let the fancy lithographed Victorian interior fool you though: this dollhouse was actually a packing crate for Dunham’s brand of shredded coconut confections. Complete with four rooms that include a lithographed fish tank and a moose head, the house and its cardboard furniture were likely available to children who collected and redeemed enough Dunham’s box tops. Just think of all the kids in the 1890s asking their mom if they could eat coconut for every meal!

77 Years Young

Veach's Toy Station

It is hard to visit The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures and not take a trip down memory lane. What is more nostalgic than toys? An old toy store on a Midwest Main Street! Veach’s Toy Station opened in 1938 in Richmond, Indiana as a general five-and-dime that sold toys during the holiday season. Although it is now strictly devoted to toys, locals insist that Veach’s hasn’t changed much in its 77 years.

The store is now being run by the third generation of the Veach family. The 16,000-square-foot store stocks American made toys from small companies. And if that wasn’t enough, the second floor is a “wonderland” of all things electric train. Road trip anyone?
Photo courtesy of Veach’s Toy Station.

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!

The Most Fashionable Doll

georgian dolls

Meet Georgiana, the oldest doll in T/m’s collection. Affectionately named for the king on the throne when she was born circa 1750 (England’s King George II), Georgiana has a carved and turned wooden body with glass eyes, and a brown human hair wig.

She doesn’t look like a cuddly doll, now does she? That’s mainly because we believe she wasn’t meant to be played with! Georgiana was likely used to model the latest fashions in a dressmaker’s shop. Instead of making a large dress that lacked a buyer, the dressmaker would make a doll-sized version for Georgiana. Interested patrons would order a similar dress perfectly sized to their human proportions.

Thus, Georgiana is dressed to the nines with all her original clothing: shift, corset, quilted petticoat, elliptical hoop, embroidered skirt, overdress, knit wool stockings, shoes, and a beaded necklace. Now that’s a lot of layers!

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