Toys for the Poor

Children in poor families made their own toys. Girls played hopscotch and made skipping rope with whatever bits of rope they could find. Another popular game for both girls and boys was to roll an iron hoop along the ground. Because there were no cars, streets were their playgrounds.

Boys from poorer families collected the marbles that were used to seal drinking bottles, usually made of glass or clay. They played jacks and tops, and with toy drums and tin soldiers when they could get them.

Toys for the Wealthy

Children in wealthier families had a wider range of playthings, as well as the leisure time to enjoy them. In the nursery, the room dedicated to the child or children and their nanny, there was a collection of toys for them to play with. Most nurseries housed a rocking horse with a mane and tail made of real horse hair. Girls had elaborate tea sets with which they would practice serving tea to their stuffed animals and dolls. As with girls of lower socio-economic standing, girls in wealthy families played skipping rope, but with ropes with carved handles.

Boys often had chess and checkerboard sets. Train sets were also very popular, as were wooden toy soldiers with which to recreate battles both historic and fictional.

Upper-class children also played with puppets, and would put on shows for their families in puppet theatres. These shows often featured Punch and Judy puppets whose wild antics were restricted by Victorian morals.