Before the 20th century children had few toys and those they did have were precious. children did not have much time to play.A minority went to school but most children were expected to help their parents doing simple jobs around the house or in the fields. Egyptian children played similar games to the ones children play today. They also played with toys like dolls, toy soldiers, wooden animals, ball, marbles, spinning tops and knucklebones (which were thrown like dice).
In Ancient Greece when boys were not at school and girls were not working they played ball games with inflated pig's bladders. They also played with knucklebones. Children also played with toys like spinning tops, dolls, model horses with wheels, hoops and rocking horses.
Roman children played with wooden or clay dolls and hoops. They also played ball games and board games. They also played with animal knucklebones.
Toys changed little through the centuries. In the 16th century children still played with wooden dolls. (They were called Bartholomew babies because they were sold at St Bartholomew's fair in London). They also played cup and ball (a wooden ball with a wooden cup on the end of handle. You had to swing the handle and try and catch the ball in the cup). Children also played with yo-yos.A number of toys, models and games were made by Napoleonic prisoners of war, who were kept in forts and prison ships around the county during the early 1800s. They would spend their time making the toys out of anything they could find, including old mutton bones, straw and wood. These were then sold locally and the prisoners received food and other necessities in return for their work.often made the simple toys themselves and would travel around the towns and villages on foot.
Local fairs provided them with much of their business. There is an account of Alton Fair, 1704 which mentions a toy man and woman (as well as women selling gingerbread and sugar plums). The Museums Service has a pair of dolls, with feet made out of sealing wax, which were bought at Lymington fair in 1829.
Shops had become more of a feature of everyday life by the Victorian period. Toys were often sold alongside other items in general shops such as grocers or stationers.
During the 19th century, factory-made toys, including tin toys and clockwork toys, went on sale. Rich children had more toys to choose from: train sets, toy soldiers, rocking horses, dolls and doll's houses, tea-sets and toy shops with toy fruit, vegetables, meat, hats and medicines. Other popular toys were alphabet bricks, sailing boats, jigsaw puzzles and Noah's Arks. In many homes, children were not allowed toys on Sundays - except Noah's Ark, because that was in the bible.
kids Toys in poor homes
Most Victorian toys were made of wood, paper or metal. There were no plastic toys. Poor children usually played with home-made toys. A clothes peg might be turned into a doll, and a lump of wood become a toy boat. A piece of rope could be used for skipping, and rags stuffed with sawdust might become a ball or an animal to cuddle. As a treat, families sometimes bought cheap factory-made toys from a 'penny stall' in the market.