Then and Now: A Nineteenth Century Christmas List

Before the holiday season draws to a close with the New Year (although back in the day it would have started later and ended on January 5th), let’s take a look at what Christmas might have been like for a child living in New York City over a century ago:

The nineteenth century marks a point in history when family time grew in importance and the nurturing of children became vital to raising morally sound adults.  No longer just a state of miniature adulthood, childhood was now more commonly seen as a time of learning, growth, and above all, enjoyment.  As the century progressed, an increasingly child-centric society was reflected in the introduction of Santa Claus to mainstream Christmas celebrations and the growth of the toy industry.

Now that half the toys are lying broken around the Christmas tree, are you wondering if there was ever a time when Christmas was simpler?  What might a child in nineteenth century New York have asked for on their Christmas list?  It just so happens that our project in Riverside, NY yielded a few toys that might have made someone’s list a couple centuries ago!  By the looks of their delicate nature, post-Christmas might have been much the same deal for parents in the late 1800s as well.

  DollFace_258 FrozenCharlotte_671 Doll_2798 photo-3

Remember our Christmas Curator’s Curio?  There’s plenty more doll fragments where that came from.  The manufacture of these fragile toys originated in Germany and represented children with contemporary clothing and hairstyles, like sausage curls and ribbons.

Teacop_1078_06 ToyMug_1888 ToySaucer_1536.04 ToyBowl_3313 Lid_3326

Unlike Barbie, the doll who has everything, dolls from this period only had so many accessories.  These included adorable little tea sets, complete with sugar bowls and saucers!

(From top to bottom: teacup, toy mug, saucer, sugar bowl, and lid)

Marble_2793 Marble_3324

Lastly, we have these clay marbles that would have been used for games.

Look out for some more fascinating artifacts tomorrow!


One thought on “Then and Now: A Nineteenth Century Christmas List

  1. Pingback: Curious Curios: January 28, 2014 Reveal | Trowel Points

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