Historic Toys

  • Laterna Magica slide, about 1912

  • Model railway track gauge 0, about 1925

  • Dolls’ House, about 1890

  • View of the exhibition "Historic Toys"

This exhibition displays a selection of historical toys from our extensive collection. Model railways, dolls and doll’s houses, toy theatres, children’s books, sets of building bricks and much more besides, convey an insight into the world of children’s play, especially of the upper classes, in the past two centuries.
Until the end of the 19th century dolls were almost exclusively representations of grown-up ladies, beautifully dressed and coiffed. They were not so much intended for mother-and-child play but as an indirect influence on upbringing and as examples for the little girls. Dolls’ houses were often exact miniature copies of the adult macro-world. So the situation in the home could be imitated in play and girls were initiated into their role as a housewife.
Technical instruction, preparation for a career, military ideals and physical training were the aims of the upbringing of boys. They were transmitted by means of steam engines, model railways, building kits, rocking horses and tin soldiers. These toys were considered to be more serious and so fathers were often to be found on the ground joining in the play.
Paper theatres were among the finest toys for both sexes. The exhibition displays the big Urania theatre from 1870 that belonged to a wealthy family in Stralsund. With the help of the figures, scenery and scripts the children could perform about 50 plays of the world’s literature. Candles were moved at the edge of the stage to achieve different lighting effects.