The history of wooden toys
Toys are as old as our civilization. However, they have changed a lot over the centuries. Their creators were not lacking in fantasy or willingness to use various materials in their production. And thus wooden and metal toys, as well as, for example, those of precious metals were created. Let’s look at the most interesting facts from the long history of toys.
Evidence for the existence of the first toys could already be found in the tombs from the time of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome, as well as during archaeological excavations conducted in Polish Biskupin. What toys were found? Terracotta dolls, tin and clay soldiers, silver horses, and even … educational toys. The archaeologists met the last ones in ancient Rome. These were special beads which the youngest used to learn the Latin alphabet. As you can see, the ancients already combined pleasure and utility.
Heron from Alexandria – the most eminent creator of toys from ancient times
… and perhaps the first one we know by name. He was a mathematician, philosopher and … constructor of war machines. But toys were supposedly his greatest passion. And not just any toys, but machines that could be put in motion – for example by means of steam, water and weights. All of Greece admired them in the first century of our era! The next important figure in the toy world of ancient times is the Philo of Byzantium. His greatest achievement was the automatic puppet theatre, which attracted the attention of both children and adults. But, honestly- today adults are also eager to reach for quasi-children’s blocks or puzzles because it’s just fun!
In the Middle Ages, adults did not hide their passion for toys. The royal courts hosted large-sized rocking horses, as well as complicated clocks in which even several hundred figures moved.
For the poor and for the rich
Over the centuries, not only the character of toys has changed, but also the material. The richest were able to afford, for example, gold rattles encrusted with precious stones, or silver soldiers. Sometimes it even happened that they could not afford the most expensive ones. Tsar Peter the Great had such a “slip-up”, when he ordered a beautiful house studded with precious stones during a trip to the Netherlands. When it turned out that a small work of art cost 20,000 florins, the tsar withdrew from the order and left empty handed.
And what about those who could not afford such beauties? They could be satisfied, for example, with wooden toys. By no means worse, but also charming. And above all – natural.
The era of plastics and return to the roots
The invention of plastic has changed a lot in the world of toys. Mouldable material slowly began to displace natural materials, and manual manufactories turned step by step into large, industrial factories. But does it mean that the art of making toys has been forgotten? Absolutely not! At the beginning of the 21st century, hand-made wooden toys – such as those from fifty or one hundred years ago – return to favour. Why? Because they are more ecological, durable, and above all – they stimulate the creativity of the child and stimulate his imagination. So let’s return to them.