Small Talk Tag: Toy

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!

Viva Video Games!

video games

Did you know the first video game was invented by a physicist in 1958? That practically seems like the dark ages compared to all of the video games we’ve come to know and love in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and beyond! Now that technology is moving at a more rapid pace than ever, what happens to all of the outmoded video game systems, not to mention the games themselves?

Fear not: Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Q*bert and others live on! The Strong National Museum of Play’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games contains every major video game platform manufactured in the U.S. since 1972, more than 20,000 video games for consoles, and more than 7,000 for personal computers. Think of how much allowance that adds up to! Focusing only on console systems, The National Videogame Museum announced its permanent home in Frisco, Texas last year. The museum’s goal is to build an all-inclusive, interactive museum for every game system ever. And before you start gathering your quarters, check out the Internet Arcade, home to some of the best (and super nostalgic) arcade games from the 1970s-’90s.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Steeped in History: The Montereau Tea Set

montereau pottery

Tea time, anyone? Children’s toy dishes and tea sets can be found in a variety of materials, from wood and tin to porcelain and plastic. When porcelain became widespread in the 19th century due to technological and scientific advances, factories began producing toy tea sets and doll accessories. Tea sets became especially popular in the mid-to-late 1800s when Queen Victoria popularized “taking tea.”

Due to the lack of documentation, it is often hard to track the origin of these sets. Lucky for us, this child-sized set in T/m’s collection is marked “Montereau” and “LL,” indicating the set originates from a Montereau pottery shop in the Oise region of France. The yellow-glazed earthenware has crisp, black transfer patterns and hand painted rims. We bet a little girl saved this “good china” for a special occasion.

Batteries Not Included

classic wooden toys

Think of all the toys you’ve played with that came with the caveat, “batteries not included.” Bummer, right? The sheer disappointment that ensued after opening a new gift only to realize its inability to function without batteries isn’t easily forgotten!

While battery-operated and other electronic toys continue to captivate kids (and adults), a trend to revive analog or “slow toys” has emerged. Combine that with recent consumer safety issues from toys made abroad and the result is Americans are once again smitten with the wooden toys of yesteryear. One of the perennial favorites, Lincoln Logs, has returned 80% of production back to the U.S. after being made in China for nearly 60 years. Pennsylvania-based Channel Craft has built an entire catalog of toys that your grandparents or even great-grandparents likely played with. Can the simple joys of tops, train whistles, boomerangs, and yo-yos divert our attention from Angry Birds or Nintendo 3DS? Maybe for a bit. One thing’s certain: they’ll still be around when electronic toys’ batteries run out of juice!
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

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