Archive for the "Games" Category

Beatrix Potter’s classic story, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” has delighted children for over a hundred years and Milton Bradley’s puzzles have entertained children for just a little longer! The Milton Bradley company began making puzzles in 1880; Potter’s book debuted in 1901. This wonderful puzzle is makes for a perfect marriage between the two franchises!

This boxed puzzle set features three puzzles with scenes from Potter’s much-loved story. Mr. McGregor is shown with his rake in a rage. Peter is pictured eating some carrots!

The Peter Rabbit Puzzle was produced by the Milton Bradley Company between 1913 and 1931. I haven’t seen another like it.

This charming and rare piece is currently available for sale in my shop on Ruby Lane.  Check out the link to my auctions at the top of the page!


I don’t know much about this boxed bubble set, but the lithograph label and the plaid box are stunning! It would make a perfect display piece with a group of antique dolls!

The set dates from about 1915 and is currently available for sale on EBay. Check the “My EBay Items” link at the top of the page for more information!

This wonderful boxed set of three puzzles once belonged to the son of an Oakland, CA Fireman. What fun this Victorian youngster must have had putting the puzzles together while imagining his father’s firefighting adventures!

The puzzle was made in 1912 by the Milton Bradley company. This prolific company was founded in 1860 in Springfield, MA and is the oldest game manufacturer in the United States. Ehow describes the company’s history in the paragraphs below:


Milton Bradley is named after the company’s founder, who started it in1860 in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. His first game was called The Checkered Game of Life, which later became The Game of Life–one of the company’s staples.

The Kindergarten Movement

Bradley was deeply influenced by the kindergarten movement in the late 19th century, which stated that children’s inherent creativity helps them to learn. He dedicated his company towards furthering that movement, and made many contributions to local kindergarten schools.

James J. Shea

After Bradley’s death, the company’s fortunes declined until it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. James J. Shea was brought in as president in 1941 and turned things around by selling a kit of Milton Bradley games for soldiers fighting in the war.


Hasbro purchased the company in 1984. It maintained the brand name and has continued to produce games under the Milton Bradley line ever since.

Successful Games

The company has produced numerous classic games in its history, including Battleship in 1931, Candyland in 1949, Yahtzee in 1956, Mouse Trap in 1963, Operation in 1965, Twister in 1966, Connect Four in 1974, Simon in 1977 and Axis and Allies in 1984.

It is known that the company produced a number of other puzzle sets in the 1910s – including a best-selling line featuring wrecked vehicles which was very popular with young boys. 

Mother Goose’s fairy tales and nursery rhymes have inspired the imaginations of children throughout the centuries. There are many theories surrounding the true identity of this woman who wrote such captivating tales. Some believe that she was based upon ancient legends of the wife of King Robert II of France; others say she was the wife of Isaac Goose and lived in Boston in the 1600s. I have visited this woman’s gravesite in the Granary Burial Ground near the Boston Common. The small gravestone is always covered with pennies left for good luck by Mother Goose devotees.

Through the years, many Mother Goose-themed toys were created.  This wooden bowling game, by Charles Crandell, is one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen! Mother Goose is flanked on either side by Jack Spratt, Dame Trott, Tom Tucker, and Jack Horner. The toy is made of wood with paper lithographs attached. A ball was used to hit the pegs at the bottom. This action made the characters’ heads go down.

The toy was made by Charles Crandell. The website Antique Antiques describes this toymaker’s history:

In about 1867 Charles Crandall took over the woodworking shop of his father, in Covington, Pennsylvania, and gradually shifted the firm’s emphasis to toy making. In 1875 he moved the growing firm to Montrose, Pennsylvania, and in 1888 to Waverly, New York. Many of the company’s toys featured components with interlocking tongue-and-groove joints that allowed them to form scores of figures. Especially popular were the Acrobats and Treasure Box. Other products included blocks, puzzles, and games.

If you’re interested in purchasing this wonderful toy, visit Kendon Antiques!

I came across this unusual German dexterity game on an online collectibles site a couple months ago.  I loved the detailed lithography of the young woman’s face and the tiny dice.  It seems like the object of this particular game is to roll the same number on both dice simultaneously.

Barbara Levine, a curator with an interest in idiosyncratic collections, presented a display of antique dexterity games at the San Francisco Public Library in 2002.  The history of these games, according to her website:

Dexterity puzzles – also known as palm puzzles, games of skill and hand-held games – have been a source of fascination for adults and children since the Nineteenth Century.

The simple hand-eye challenge of rolling a ball into a hole, or sliding, nudging and tilting a capsule through a maze, has proved to be among the most delightful, maddening, and enduring diversions of the modern age, despite, or perhaps because of its sheer simplicity.  Soon after the games became popular with the public beginning in the late 1800s, they were produced in large numbers in the United States, England, France, Japan and Germany. The games could be found in doctors’ offices, train stations, and in rainy-day game rooms of seaside resorts - in essence, anywhere that required waiting.  They were even nicknamed “patience games.”

But whether straightforward or tricky, dexterity puzzles are objects of popular culture, as reflections of history, as advertisements, illustrations and graphic design they are a rich and revealing world…  

Each manufacturing country tended to use different materials and graphics.  French games were typically glass and cardboard boxed sets with ornate patterned paper and lids.  German puzzles were round glass-topped with chromolithographed tin and often included a mirror on the reverse.  Games made in the United States were usually square and made of inexpensive tin and cardboard.  The firm of R. Journet and Company of London designed more than one hundred innovative glass-top dexterity games beginning in 1891 and contuing through the 1960’s. Japanese puzzles are usually round and double sided including two games in one.  Dexterity games are affectionately known as your grandfather’s gameboy and  included in this exhibition are also a few of the earliest electronic hand held games.