1860: "New-Year's Gifts: The Toyshop", by Mason Jackson [image info]
The Brighton Toy and Model Index
The Brighton Toy and Model Index is a regularly-updated knowledgebase for toys and models, and the general and social history of modelmaking and toymaking across the UK and Europe, from the industrial revolution to the middle of the Twentieth Century.
As of June 2017, the Index currently holds over six thousand pages and a similar number of photographs and archive scans.
Although this encyclopaedia is powered by the same software that runs Wikipedia and (like Wikipedia), is a continually-growing "work in progress", editing is reserved for authorised Museum personnel.
The Early Toy Record
- The early history of toys provides a unique historical record of not only social and technological progress, but also of the collective psyche. Long before modern precision injection moulding and computer-generated tooling, early toys, made using comparatively crude processes, were by necessity highly impressionistic and somewhat abstract.
- The early "tinplate wranglers" were not just craftsman and engineers, but artists, striving to distil out the essential feel, identity and character of the originals in objects that might sometimes only have had a passing resemblance to their true proportions and shape. Early toy design was to some extent a form of three-dimensional cartooning or caricature, focussing on and emphasising a thing’s key identifying elements and discarding “unimportant” detail, the result being a slightly surreal and "dreamlike" record not of a thing’s physical shape, but of how it was understood and remembered.
- The result is a very human record of how humans saw, perceived and felt towards their surroundings through the period.
The Model Record
- In contrast, the history of models provides a more technical and exact record of buildings, styles and (in the case of model engineering) machinery and vehicles from other times. With past modelmakers having acted as "curators" in deciding what was and wasn’t worth recording in model form, old models provide a contemporary record of real life in miniature, allowing us to assemble, for instance, a tiny transport museum showing the breadth of designs across the early British car industry, within the volume of a small room. Static and working models capture details that might not be present in plans or photographs, such as the look of an oiled piston-rod, or actual colours that cannot be reliably determined from early colour photography or black-and-white images.
Some major manufacturers:
Bassett-Lowke Bing Britains Lines Brothers (Tri-ang) Märklin Meccano Ltd (Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys) Steiff
Other manufacturers and brands
Sections recently or currently being expanded...
Some popular pages
Brighton - More pages about relevant Brighton-related subjects. The museum is an official Brighton Tourist Information Point, and supplies free maps to visitors, courtesy of VisitBrighton
For authorised editors, the style guidelines are laid out on an example page.