Archive for the "War-Related Toys" Category

This British postcard showing a child on Christmas morning dates from about 1910 or earlier.  It is from G. D. & D., LONDON’s “STAR SERIES” – a series consisting of thousands of different designs featuring a plethora of subjects.

I love the text on this quaint card!  “XMAS MORNING – BABY MORE THAN SATISFIED!”

The baby should be satisfied!  Look at her Christmas-day treasures!  Dolls, a buggy, a bear on wheels, a drum, and a toy cannon!

I find the toy cannon in the bottom-right corner of this photo especially interesting.  It is large and seems to be made of brass.  I’m not a toy cannon expert so I’m not sure who it was manufactured by but I did some research into the fascinating history of toy cannons.

According to the website www.canon-mania.com, the earliest known toy cannon is a Chinese hand cannon believed to be over 2000 years old but the use of cannons as toys didn’t commonplace until the 1800’s.  A series of wars including The War of 1812, The Napoleonic Wars, The American Civil War, and the Boer Wars peaked an interest in cannons.  Little boys at this time were fascinated by the solidiers’ tales of battle and toy companies saw an opportunity to profit by making toy cannons.  One of the earliest American patents for a toy cannon was filed in 1860 by the J. O. Couch company of Connecticut.

Although a toy cannon seems like an extremely dangerous gift to give a child, it was commonplace for wealthy boys of the 19th-century to own one.  Abraham Lincoln even bought one for his son Tad, which is now on display in the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL.  Lincoln may have later regretted the gift because one day Tad bombed the Cabinet room door while the members were in session!  Perhaps this is the only time in history that the White House was officially considered a “war zone!”  If you’d like to read a longer story about Tad and his toys, including the cannon, visit the Lincoln link at the bottom of the page and read the story under the “Tad and Willie and Jack” section!  You will not be disappointed!

Big-Bang Cannon, operated by the Conestoga Company out of Allentown, PA has been making toy cannons for over 100 years.  The company is still very active in manufacturing and selling this interesting type of toy!  I have included some advertisements from the 1910’s and 1920’s from this company pictured at the bottom.  You can visit their website at the link below to purchase a toy cannon for your child, if you dare!

http://www.everythinglincoln.com/articles/TadLincoln.html

http://www.bigbangcannons.com/