History of Toys


toy, article designed to be played with, chiefly for children. Archaeological research has revealed numerous playthings from prehistoric civilizations. Early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman dolls, tops, balls, rattles, hoops, and miniature representations of furniture, houses, and dishes have been preserved. Mechanical toys, often created for the amusement of adults, have been popular since the Middle Ages. Toys made by individual artisans were early distributed in Germany; they were at first sold chiefly by peddlers at fairs. The use of sheet-metal stamping in Nuremberg c.1850 introduced the first large-scale manufacturing methods. The manufacture of toys is an important industry in most countries. Although many new toys are created each year, some, especially dolls, balls, art materials, and blocks, retain their popularity year after year. Educators and psychologists, beginning with Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel and Maria Montessori, have stressed the role of toys in the mental, emotional, social, and physical development of children.

See A. Fraser, A History of Toys (1966); G. White, Antique Toys and Their Background (1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

History of Toys: Selected full-text books and articles

Children and Play in the Holocaust: Games among the Shadows By George Eisen University of Massachusetts Press, 1988
Images of Blacks in American Culture: A Reference Guide to Information Sources By Jessie Carney Smith Greenwood Press, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Toy Menagerie: Early Images of Blacks in Toys, Games, and Dolls"
Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace By David S. Bennahum Basic Books, 1998
Japanese Folk-Toys By Tekiho Nisizawa; S. Sakabe Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government, 1939
Japan, the U.S. and the Globalization of Children's Consumer Culture By Cross, Gary; Smits, Gregory Journal of Social History, Vol. 38, No. 4, Summer 2005
Toys, Games, and Media By Jeffrey Goldstein; David Buckingham; Gilles Brougere Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
The Invention and Uses of Folk Art in Germany: Wooden Toys from the Erzgebirge Mountains By Schramm, Manuel Folklore, Vol. 115, No. 1, April 2004
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