Christmas, Mechanical Toys, Tin Toys — December 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

The Poor Children’s Wonderland

The Poor Children's Wonderland
The Poor Children’s Wonderland

The city toy-stores, those wondrous bazaars of all that is glittering and funny and startling in the latest devices for the amusement of the juvenile world, are radiant centres of delight, in these holiday times. Of course they do a rushing business; but if the wishes of every visitor could be satisfied – if merely to say “I choose this locomotive,” or, “That walking doll is for me,” were sufficient to put the wisher in instant possession of the coveted object – shelves of the stores would be stripped bare before nightfall. Such things occur only in fairy tales; but the toys displayed in the shop-windows are real enough – some of them seem
to be actually alive. They are kept up and moving all day long; and, since it costs nothing to look as long as one likes, the poorest child in New York can enjoy, after a fashion, a greater number and variety of toys than the richest could possibly possess. Thus does philosophy assume the role of Santa Claus!

—Original Newspaper Article

THE ATTACHED WOOD engraving and story appeared in the December 8, 1888 edition of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. They give
a rare and interesting look at a Christmas toy window display from the period. Victorian pictures of Christmas toys aren’t rare, of course. Thomas Nast’s wonderful illustrations spring to mind; as do the drawings in old copies of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, and the pictures found on holiday newsprint ads and various advertising cards. But those pictures invariably show generic dolls, drums, balls, Noah’s Arks, and other toys that are more the imagination of the artist than anything specific. The toys shown in this illustration are another story altogether. We know exactly what they are, and who made them. Most were made by Ives.

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