Some old toys

It’s really important that this show is fun. We’re all pretty good at this job so I’m pretty confident that whatever we eventually present will be heaps of fun. But I also wonder whether we could maybe learn from history – what toys have stood the test of time?

Dolls are common across most cultures, and date back thousands of years. Dolls may not be a uniquely human phenomoenon: Young chimps often adopt sticks and take them back to their nests. Theis behaviour is seen in chidren and young adult females. It has never been seen in a female with offspring.

The earliest toy animals and vehicles are similarly thousands of years old.

A black toy horse with wheels

This toy horse dates back to Ancient Greece.
Image: Sharon Mollerus via Wikimedia Commons

Yo-yos feature on Ancient Greek pottery, as do hoops and juggling.

Ball games appear on most continents. Spinning tops are less common.

A spinning top that tips over and ends up upside down while still spinning.

This spinning top is a mini-game all in itself!
Image: Dnor via Wikimedia Commons

People have played with knucklebones for millennia. Knucklebones have become less popular in the last few centuries – I have only dim reccolections of playing with them in primary school? Also I have a bone-based fortune telling kit that I think David gave me for my birthday more than a decade ago.

There are lots of string pattern games, such as cat’s cradle, which appear in many cultures. I would not be surprised if they occur mostly in fishing cultures.

And there are plenty of more modern games, including marbles and cards. plenty of fun to play with! I guess I could end with a question:

Which toy is the most fun to play with on your own, and which is the most fun in a group?


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