Toys and Games
Patricia Samford and Taylor Williamson
This section of the Small Finds documents toys and game pieces in the collections of the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. The toys and game pieces are divided by material type – ceramic, metal, wood and other—and each artifact has a brief description, a date range of manufacture where possible, and contextual information. In assessing the lab collection as a whole, toys do not really begin to appear consistently in the archaeological record until the second half of the nineteenth century. This circumstance probably has less to do with lack of playthings for children and more to do with the toys not surviving underground due to the materials (wood, leather, fabric, gesso) of which they were made. For Christmas 1759, George Washington ordered a wax doll, a bird on bellows, and a “Tunbridge Tea Sett” for his young children. Other toy types from the eighteenth century included marbles, rattles, rocking horses and tin drums.
A good source for late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century toys and game pieces are merchant’s catalogs, like the Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs, which have been reprinted and relatively easy to purchase.