Researching the Victorians: Toy Shops

          Toyland, a toy shop in Victorian London, was a popular destination for Christmas shoppers looking to purchase their son, daughter, niece, or nephew the perfect toy for the winter holiday. The toy-shopper, in this case “Uncle Jonathan,” enters the store and immediately recognizes the “shelves piled up with boxes” containing a variety of toys such as dolls, teapots, lanterns, puzzles, bats and balls (Jackson). Just as parents and older family members experience upon entering toy stores today, the shopper recognizes that toys have improved since they were a child. There is an overwhelmingly large selection of new and unfamiliar toys available to Uncle Jonathan, and he spends his time looking through what Toyland has to offer, imagining himself as a child again and considering what toys would bring him joy (Jackson).
          Toyland offers a variety of toys, all of which are targeted toward different age groups and genders. There are toys for child boys, child girls, and infants. Girls toys are typically dolls, but also include “skipping-ropes, battledores, tennis rackets, and hoops” (Jackson). The dolls are presented wrapped in tissue paper inside boxes. They are made of “wax, china, or rag” with “flaxen hair, sparkling blue eyes that open [and] shut […], a charming face, and the very pinkest of pink toes” (Jackson). Dolls are typically found as baby dolls or brides, and clothing is often made to dress the doll up:  bridal, tennis, casual, and proper dresses. Toys available to boys are “lanterns with green and red lights,” “rocking-horses,” “Tally Ho!,” “trumpets and drums,” “puzzles,” “bats and balls,” and “bows and arrows” (Jackson). Infant toys consist of “elephants, Noah’s arks, Punch and Judy, and windmills” (Jackson). If an abundance of toys were bought and could not all be carried out, the shop would deliver the excess (Jackson).
Jackson, Lee. “Dictionary of Victorian London – Victorian History – ChildhoodToys –Toy Shops.” Dictionary of Victorian London. Yale University Press, 15 Nov. 2001. Web. 26 Aug. 2015. <>

4 thoughts on “Researching the Victorians: Toy Shops

  1. Hey! Cool find on all the pictures of the old timey toys! Super cool blast from the past and really helpful visuals. Really showing the differences between today and yesterdays entertainment!

  2. Great post! I like how you used pictures to connect what you were saying. It gives a good visual and makes it more clear. It is interesting to see the toys that were played with in Victorian London.

  3. Great article, and the pictures and links definitely help! What do you make of the gendering of toys? Is it similar to the aggressive gendering of toys in our own age? What do the toys for different genders tell us about how each gender was portrayed in the Victorian period?

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