Life is quite different here in 1876 and the roles children play in a family are significantly changed. Before 1870 when the Education Act was passed, boys at the age of 12 worked nine or ten hours a day including having their meals at work, leaving very little time to play. Younger children spent time in school, worked at chores or at jobs for low paying wages. Whenever they had free time which included an occasional evening and holidays would play outdoors with hoops, balls, marbles, skipping rope or spinning tops.
The poorer the family, the less that can be afforded in the way of toys. What is bought is purchased at penny bazaars, market stalls, fairs or from peddlers. These peddlers are often referred to as "chapmen" derived from the word "cheap" and they sell small books called "chapbooks" as well as poorly made wooden dolls and cheap tin soldiers. Other toys one might find in these poor households includes home-made kits, carts and dolls. Only at Christmas time will some of these children receive better toys from the Clergy or the local gentry.
A popular toyshop, the Toy Warehouse, became known as "Noah's Ark" because it was one of the main toys sold there. William Hamley, the shop's owner, took great pride in selling the very best toys that he could, the range of which included tin soldiers, rag dolls, doll houses, marbles, hoops, games, wooden puzzles, wooden hobby horses and later sporting equipment.
Other popular toyshops include C. N. Mackie's Magical Depot, W. H. Cremer, Morrell's of Burlington Arcade and J. S. Theobald & Co.
Popular toys also include toy pistols, drums and trumpets, the baby rattle, kites, tops, and building bricks. Books also were available with titles such as "Easy Words", "Easy Spelling", "The Child's Own Alphabet", "Droll Moral Tales" and "A Hundred Short Tales for Children."
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Background set by webmaster; toyshop painted by Harlan Cox. The other toys featured on this page come from cds and Clipart.com.