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Toys are items used in play and as a way to educate children. Over the years, toys have been made of wood, tin, cast iron, paper, china and plastic. These are all present in our collections. Toys reflect lifestyles of families, events and ways to prepare children for society over the years.

The earliest toy in our collection is a wooden monkey on a stick dating from the 1880s. The 1900s toys include household items such as china tea sets, cookware, and household items such as toy irons, stoves and doll furniture for girls.

Friction and pull toys were also popular. Toys for boys include tin soldiers, small tools, vehicles and building blocks. Farm animals, both large and small, were frequently played with. Books and games for boys and girls have always been prized and are included in our collection. Manufactured toys such as trains, cars and trucks made of heavy metals became popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Photo for Toys
Child’s metal toy wood stove with a pot, fry pan and sad iron on the stove top.
Photo for Toys
Child’s toy china tea set. Teapot, sugar bowl, creamer, and cup and saucer. The china pattern, known as Blue Willow, was very popular.
Photo for Toys
A cast iron model train with engine, passenger car and coal car. Dates from about 1900. The passenger car is marked Lake Shore and Michigan Southern.
Photo for Toys
Toy tool kit titled Model Tool Chests for Boys. Includes saw and miter box, rasp, awl and brace. This set, made by the Mason & Parker Mfg. Co., dates from the 1920s.

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