Toys for young and old
As early as the Middle Ages parents made toys for their children, such as balls, diabolos, yoyos, whistles and marbles. The period of time that children had to play was not long at all. From the age of seven they began preparing for life as an adult by learning a trade and helping in and around the house. Changing pedagogical ideas – more attention was paid to children from the second half of the eighteenth century – led to an increase in the number of toys which allowed children to develop as they played. To begin with, of course, these toys were only available to children from wealthy families.
By playing with toy kitchens and doll’s houses, girls learned how to keep house, while boys learned horse riding on rocking horses and how a (miniature) steam engine worked. In the course of the nineteenth century industrialisation gathered momentum and the standard of living of the people of Western Europe began to improve. From this time onwards, luxury goods, such as manufactured toys, came within the reach of an ever larger group of children.
This theme covers not only toys intended for children, but also adults’ toys, such as politically themed board games and the game of cockals, a throwing game that provided entertainment in winter.