medieval toys

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annoo
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medieval toys

Post by annoo »

i am new to reanacting i have joined a 13thcentury society along with my husband and 4 year old daughter and been talking to our society advicier and would like to get some toys for our daughter to use on our reanactments but am a little stuck as to what would be appropriate please could some one help and let me know of any sites r where i could get some ideas please

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Brother Ranulf
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Brother Ranulf »

Some of what were regarded as toys in the 13th century would raise eyebrows today - in the late 12th century lai "Yvain", a boy is seen using a "bow and five barbed arrows which were sharp and broad". No doubt of smaller than adult size this weapon was part of the gradual training for using a full size bow in later life - but letting a child loose today with arrows like that could end in tears.

The German manuscript hortus deliciarum shows a boy and girl playing with a type of marionette or puppet - they stand at a table manipulating two jointed figures of knights with swords; pulling the strings attached to the figures they make them clash against each other. How common the use of puppets by children was in England is a matter of debate as almost no evidence survives; they were certainly used by entertainers in street shows.

The use of wooden swords and shields by children has been suggested by some, again without much period evidence.

In winter, children and adults strapped part of the leg bones of horses or cattle beneath their shoes to make reasonably good ice skates; these bones were about 250 mm long and drilled with holes for leather straps.

Among adults, dice games were certainly very popular but the rules have not come down to us (they were often the cause of drunken fights since money usually changed hands on the outcome). Again we do not have evidence for children playing such games, or the newly-introduced chess. "Tables" was another adult game, the ancestor of backgammon, but again the rules are unknown. The game known as "Cross and Pile" (heads and tails) is said to have been popular among the lower classes, later introduced at court - it simply involved spinning a coin.

Buzz-bones were definitely a childhood favourite; these could be specially-made 30 to 50 mm wide lead or pewter disks with frighteningly serrated edges and pierced with holes through which strings were threaded - when the looped ends were pulled the disk would rotate producing a humming or buzzing sound. The metacarpal and metatarsal (knuckle) bones of pigs were drilled with one or two holes and used in the same way (surviving examples are about 80 mm long).

The thing to remember is that children at that time were considered to be adults at around 12 years old and even before that age they were expected to work fairly hard. Farming tasks and helping with household chores (collecting eggs or firewood, bird scaring, milking the sheep or goats, washing linen, making butter from cream, feeding the livestock, weeding the fields or kitchen plot, etc. etc) left very little time for medieval children to play games. Modern children are at the other extreme of the spectrum.

The "board" game Nine Men's Morris (alias Merrills or Mills, or a host of other local names) and its variants were extremely popular - you need only a flat surface and some chalk to mark out the board, plus some stones of two different colours as playing pieces. No doubt wooden boards were also produced, with proper gaming counters (I made a set some time ago with an oak playing board and antler and yew pieces). The rules can be found easily on the internet - my young grandson has become quite skilled at the game and it makes a change from all the electronic stuff.

Part of our sadly lost English heritage is the May-day tradition, when young people would go out early to the woods to collect flowers for decorating their doors and windows, followed by a whole day of celebrating and dancing at the "maypoll". In some villages this tradition continued up to recent years, but is now almost extinct.
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sally
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Re: medieval toys

Post by sally »

Given her age a very simple rag doll in appropriate fabrics might be useful. Dolls are found in most cultures and time periods, and though I can't think of a specific example for your dateline offhand, I doubt one would raise any eyebrows. Maybe a small basket that she can carry treasures round in might be nice as well, you can get small handled baskets quite easily and it shouldnt be hard to find one in appropriate materials, and you could give her a few starting treasures like a couple of large well scrubbed native seashells, a particularly pretty beach pebble, some squares of fabric etc, and let her add to these and invent her own games. Perhaps a tiny three legged stool just the right size for her to drag around and sit on might appeal as well. Miniature models of household equipment in usually pewter are fairly well known in the archaeological record, maybe it would be acceptable to make her a couple of wooden versions if she is too small for little metal toys yet? How about a ball, something like a juggling ball sewn from leather or cloth might be good. I wouldnt have thought something like a wooden animal might be too inconceivable either.

there is a short article here onmedieval toys, it suggests wooden boats and kites as an other possibility
http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba35/ba35feat.html

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Jenn
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Jenn »

felt balls are popular with my daughter as are some wooden animals - a horse, a cow etc painted in simple colours
and a poppet

I keep them in a separate bag and only allow them out at re-enactments so they have excitement of novelty

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Re: medieval toys

Post by Gail Horn »

And as they get bigger, a stick, mud, water, trees and other people's children seem to be a popular choice...
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Re: medieval toys

Post by annoo »

THANX FOR ALL THAT REPLIED THE IFNO WAS MUCH APPRECIATED DOES ANNYONE KNOW IF BALL IN CUP WAS AROUND IN THE 13THCENTURY SIMPLE STICK WITH WOODEN CUP AND BALL ON A STRING CATCH BALL IN CUP

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Merlon.
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Merlon. »

Oxford English Dictionary indicates mid 18th century and Wikipedia indicates 16th century France for cup and ball

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Re: medieval toys

Post by gregory23b »

Barbara Hanwalt's, Ties that Bound, might cover the late 13thc, she uses coroners' reports to log how people died, some died during work and play.
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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

I'm starting to do some kids toys such as hobby horses and windmils. Spinning tops appeared to be popular later into the 14th century, including whip-powered versions.
I am particularly fond of the windmill lances for jousting on hobby horses.

I will be contacting a guy (Cyril Hobbes I think - my memory is horrible) who wrote a book on the subject. It's commercialy based so is a bit too broad, but he has a huge library on the subject as well as a wealth of museum research. He has kindly offered to share.
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Cap-a-pie
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Cap-a-pie »

spinning tops, hobby horses, quoits and I thought i had seen somewhere about the cup and ball being much earlier. Also wasn't there a number of pewter toys found in the thames. Dates for these were circa 14th I think - I remember the article said it questions the previously held belief that children did not have much of a childhood. Will see if I can locate the article unless someone has it to hand

just found this -

"Finds from Viking and Norman Dublin show that toy wooden boats must have been popular very early, as a couple of 9th century models are known"

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ba/ba35/ba35feat.html
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http://www.capapie.co.uk

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Re: medieval toys

Post by Grymm »

Seen a hobby horse in Childrens Games
Image bottom centre..
Anyone got and links to others, I'd prefer mid 18thC but muddyevil, turder, 17thC even 19thc would all be of interest?

Here's a link to a much BIGGER and clearer version of children's games http://chawedrosin.files.wordpress.com/ ... egel21.jpg I dint use it as it would've throw the board size waaaaay out
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Re: medieval toys

Post by lucy the tudor »

paul bennett wrote:I'm starting to do some kids toys such as hobby horses and windmils. Spinning tops appeared to be popular later into the 14th century, including whip-powered versions.
I am particularly fond of the windmill lances for jousting on hobby horses.

I will be contacting a guy (Cyril Hobbes I think - my memory is horrible) who wrote a book on the subject. It's commercialy based so is a bit too broad, but he has a huge library on the subject as well as a wealth of museum research. He has kindly offered to share.

Ooh you jammy thing! Well done for contacting him.
I love his book.
I also make various toys, hobby horses a la Breugel, tops, spinners, whistles and the like, they do sell well.
lucythetudor@gmail.com

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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

He contacted me. Saw me at the ilhf and we got talking about toys.
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Colin Middleton »

Grymm wrote:Seen a hobby horse in Childrens Games

Here's a link to a much BIGGER and clearer version of children's games http://chawedrosin.files.wordpress.com/ ... egel21.jpg I dint use it as it would've throw the board size waaaaay out
Thanks for that Grymm, I was going to point out the Bruegel. It's early-mid 16th C, but some things never change...
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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

My first toy off the production.... erm... bench.

a hobby horse in a 16/17th century style
its about 1m long and made of a single peice of ash
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Hecate
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Hecate »

Apparently Gloucester Museum have a number of toys that were found in the roof of Tewkesbury Abbey that they think were left there by local children after seeking refuge during the battle of Tewkesbury... for WOTR re-enactment, you can't get a better source! I've yet to go and see them, but the chap who showed a couple of friends round the abbey said that's where they donated them.

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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

Hecate wrote:Apparently Gloucester Museum have a number of toys that were found in the roof of Tewkesbury Abbey that they think were left there by local children after seeking refuge during the battle of Tewkesbury... for WOTR re-enactment, you can't get a better source! I've yet to go and see them, but the chap who showed a couple of friends round the abbey said that's where they donated them.
I called them and Tewksbury museum and they don't have them. Haven't contacted the abbey yet.
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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

Just called the abbey.
Its bunkum Im afraid. They have no record of any finds or donations to those museums. It is probably just a tall tale that has worked its way into the tour guides banter.
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Karen Larsdatter
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Karen Larsdatter »

More toys at http://www.larsdatter.com/toys.htm -- the only ones directly from the 13th century (for the OP question above) are these tops from Germany, but plenty of other toys from before & after the 13th century.

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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »


Dear Mr Bennett

Thank you for your recent email. I have never heard of any mediaeval
toys being found in the Abbey or any of its surrounding buildings. I
have asked one or two experts in the history of the Abbey, and they have
not heard of it either, so I am afraid that there is no truth in the
rumour. The only thing that I can think it might relate to are some
mediaeval monks' slippers that were found many years ago in the roof
space of the north transept when the accumulation of rubbish was cleared
out of there.

Your sincerely,

P Webley
Honorary Abbey Registrar
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Brother Ranulf »

Slippers in the roof space? Sounds like the makings of a Cadfael mystery plot.

Monks wore their clothes and "night shoes", otherwise referred to as slippers, when they slept in their dormitory so they could rise and go straight to the night office without any delay.

The fable of the toys is sadly typical of the false stories being put about (like the various fake claims for Welsh longbows pre-13th century). What makes them even worse is that the person(s) responsible are in a position to know something about the period, so they can throw in some real history to make the deception seem plausible. The real shame is that the deceit is spread far quicker and accepted more readily than the truth. :worried:
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Re: medieval toys

Post by kate/bob »

Hi,

I'm looking for some small wooden farm animals for my three year old - does anyone know of someone who makes them?

ta

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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

If you have a specific image or style in mind, I could make them.
There are also a lot of traditional wooden toy makers out there, but they tend to be expensive or outsource to India
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Re: medieval toys

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

My son's favourite "game" while at re-enactments is to hit me with bits of wood before running off.
I feel like shouting "Not now Kato!" every time the little sh** does it.
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Re: medieval toys

Post by kate/bob »

I didn't have anything more complicated in mind than small sheep or pigs which would survive being thrown round a field! They wouldn't need to be painted. What sort of price were you thinking Paul?

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Re: medieval toys

Post by kate/bob »

Paul, have pmd you.

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paul bennett
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Re: medieval toys

Post by paul bennett »

and here they are (in the post yesterday):
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Re: medieval toys

Post by kate/bob »

the picture doesn't do them justice - they're just what I was after. Mini-moose loves them and the armchair was turned into a pig sty and the rug into a field as soon as they came out of the package!

Thanks again Paul

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