At first, craftsmen worked entirely by hand. Wood was left untreated or was varnished or painted. Paints were also hand-made. Toys like skittles or bowling pins were decorated with thin stripes or lines of coloured paint. This painstaking work was done by women called "liners" who used a small treadle lathe. This technique was used in the Jura region that produced a lot of wooden toys.

The advent of automation transformed traditional wood turning. Traditionally, blocks of wood were turned allowing lathe operators to work on them. With automation, it was the machine that turned at high speed, equipped with various blades. This helped to increase production and lower costs.

The invention of the dipping machine, still in use today, applied paint by immersing articles in enamel.

But a few people still help to maintain traditional techniques by working as "liners".

This restored toy comes from the attic of a carpenter’s house. The colour has been reproduced exactly except for the watch added during the restoration by an artist who wanted to add a touch of humour.
At first, craftsmen worked entirely by hand. Wood was left untreated or was varnished or painted. Paints were also hand-made. Toys like skittles or bowling pins were decorated with thin stripes or lines of coloured paint. This painstaking work was done by women called "liners" who used a small treadle lathe. This technique was used in the Jura region that produced a lot of wooden toys.

The advent of automation transformed traditional wood turning. Traditionally, blocks of wood were turned allowing lathe operators to work on them. With automation, it was the machine that turned at high speed, equipped with various blades. This helped to increase production and lower costs.

The invention of the dipping machine, still in use today, applied paint by immersing articles in enamel.

But a few people still help to maintain traditional techniques by working as "liners".

This restored toy comes from the attic of a carpenter’s house. The colour has been reproduced exactly except for the watch added during the restoration by an artist who wanted to add a touch of humour.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Push Toy

A figure on a bicycle. This restored toy comes from the attic of a carpenter's house. The colour has been reproduced exactly except for the watch added during the restoration by an artist who wanted to add a touch of humour.

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network

Wood and metal
70x54x5
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


This articulated toy consists of three dogs attached to small boards linked together by rivets. The body of the lead dog hides a spring mechanism. The other dogs are cut-out silhouettes. They are wearing top hats.

Toddlers often learned to walk accompanied by all sorts of animals on wheels that they pushed with a handle, or more often, pulled by a string like this one. Whether the animals were domestic, farmyard or wild, they never moved too quickly. Dogs were children’s favourite domestic animal. And these dogs weren’t likely to bite! Today we can find reproductions of extremely friendly dogs like those of Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939).
This articulated toy consists of three dogs attached to small boards linked together by rivets. The body of the lead dog hides a spring mechanism. The other dogs are cut-out silhouettes. They are wearing top hats.

Toddlers often learned to walk accompanied by all sorts of animals on wheels that they pushed with a handle, or more often, pulled by a string like this one. Whether the animals were domestic, farmyard or wild, they never moved too quickly. Dogs were children’s favourite domestic animal. And these dogs weren’t likely to bite! Today we can find reproductions of extremely friendly dogs like those of Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939).

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

toy

Mechanical articulated pull toy

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network
c. 1930
Wood
360x125x55
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The rabbit’s hind legs are attached to a two-wheeled base. The ears and all four legs are moveable and firmly interconnected by means of a metal bar. A system attached to the wheel axle makes the whole body jump.

Until the 19th century, 80 percent of the population was rural and thus came into direct contact with animals. We find they occur quite naturally as a reflection of society in the world of toys. All the animals used in village economy can be found as pull or push toys. Farm animals were also cut out from simpler shapes and collected in a box.

Today, manufacturers are once again making wooden toys, animals for pulling in bright colours in response to modern tastes as well as reproductions of toys by artists like Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939). Small children still enjoy boxes of wooden farm animals that provide an opportunity for tiny city dwellers to play with animals often encountered only in petting zoos.
The rabbit’s hind legs are attached to a two-wheeled base. The ears and all four legs are moveable and firmly interconnected by means of a metal bar. A system attached to the wheel axle makes the whole body jump.

Until the 19th century, 80 percent of the population was rural and thus came into direct contact with animals. We find they occur quite naturally as a reflection of society in the world of toys. All the animals used in village economy can be found as pull or push toys. Farm animals were also cut out from simpler shapes and collected in a box.

Today, manufacturers are once again making wooden toys, animals for pulling in bright colours in response to modern tastes as well as reproductions of toys by artists like Benjamin Rabier (1864-1939). Small children still enjoy boxes of wooden farm animals that provide an opportunity for tiny city dwellers to play with animals often encountered only in petting zoos.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Toy

Lifelike pull toy

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network
c. 1930
Painted wood
600x450x110
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


A polychrome wooden horse mounted on a wooden block with four wooden wheels, this is a family toy bought in 1880 at the birth of Henri Moricard and subsequently used by his descendants.

Horses, the favourite animals of little boys, may be simple pull toys as pictured here or, on a larger scale, something a child can ride. In England, rockers are added so that children can rock on them. Horses are also seen quite often on carnival merry-go-rounds.

For children of earlier times, horses represented the draft power their fathers used in the fields. Children could imitate their fathers by playing with toy horses. Very often, poor rural families did not have the means to buy ready-made toys from peddlers so fathers made toy horses themselves for their children. But the toy was frequently reduced to its simplest shape and the children’s imaginations did the rest.
A polychrome wooden horse mounted on a wooden block with four wooden wheels, this is a family toy bought in 1880 at the birth of Henri Moricard and subsequently used by his descendants.

Horses, the favourite animals of little boys, may be simple pull toys as pictured here or, on a larger scale, something a child can ride. In England, rockers are added so that children can rock on them. Horses are also seen quite often on carnival merry-go-rounds.

For children of earlier times, horses represented the draft power their fathers used in the fields. Children could imitate their fathers by playing with toy horses. Very often, poor rural families did not have the means to buy ready-made toys from peddlers so fathers made toy horses themselves for their children. But the toy was frequently reduced to its simplest shape and the children’s imaginations did the rest.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

toy

Pull Toy

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network
c. 1880
Painted wood
410x445x270
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


A fire hydrant is attached to either side of a four-wheeled base and two firemen with moveable joints operate it. These toys recall scenes of community and working life, especially occupations of interest to children.

Firemen attract children with their uniforms and shiny helmets as well as by their bravery in fighting fires. Fire itself has always fascinated adults and children. We can spend hours gazing into a crackling fire in the fireplace and although children are not allowed to play with fire, they can always play with firemen. It is, moreover, a lot of fun to imitate the sound of the siren. In today’s collections, we find a natty red fire engine right next to the police car.
A fire hydrant is attached to either side of a four-wheeled base and two firemen with moveable joints operate it. These toys recall scenes of community and working life, especially occupations of interest to children.

Firemen attract children with their uniforms and shiny helmets as well as by their bravery in fighting fires. Fire itself has always fascinated adults and children. We can spend hours gazing into a crackling fire in the fireplace and although children are not allowed to play with fire, they can always play with firemen. It is, moreover, a lot of fun to imitate the sound of the siren. In today’s collections, we find a natty red fire engine right next to the police car.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

toy

Firemen with moveable joints and a fire hydrant

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne
Canadian Heritage Information Network
c. 1930
Painted wood
272x325x125
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe elements of the way of life of children in France;
  • Describe the role of toys in French culture;
  • Describe the history of toys in French culture;
  • Describe the relationship between materials, artistry, and method of manufacture with form and function, using historic French toys as examples.

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