The Brighton Toy and Model Index:About

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Revision information,
5 December 2023

Publisher: Brighton Toy and Model Museum, UK

Editor: Eric Baird

ISSN 2399-1798

9,657 Pages

11,484 Images and other files

67,837 edits since 2011-02

Latest pages - Latest images

The Brighton Toy and Model Index is an ever-expanding public knowledgebase on the early history of toys and models, resourced by Brighton Toy and Model Museum, an independent museum based in Brighton, UK, on England's South Coast.

The site is powered by the same open-source "MediaWiki" software that runs Wikipedia, but the content is separate.

Publisher details

The resource's publisher is Brighton Toy and Model Museum, 52-55 Trafalgar Street, Brighton BN1 4EB, UK, registered charity number 1001560

The Index's Editor is Eric Baird.

The "Index" project's history

The Index pages have been undergoing continual expansion since 2011, and the number of content pages and the number of metadata-tagged images are both expected to pass the "five thousand" mark during Q3/Q4 2016.

2011-2012 – Prototyping and organisation
The Index project started out in February 2011 as an experimental public-access knowledgebase for background material and context on the museum and its exhibits, and a more general resource on toys, models and the people and companies that made them, with a focus on Europe in the first half of the Twentieth Century, matching the focus of the museum. The MediaWiki software was chosen for its ease of use, its historical edit-tracking and user-logging (and "undo" facility!), and its management tools capable of handling large numbers of volunteers with different levels of technical ability.
2013 – Frank Hornby and Meccano Ltd.
In 2012 the museum was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to celebrate and publicise the legacy of Frank Hornby, inventor of Meccano, Hornby Trains and Dinky Toys, and founder of Meccano Ltd. Part of this 2013 "150th anniversary" project ("FH150") involved expanding the Index, and the museum embarked on a digitisation programme during 2013 to assemble and publish as much Hornby-related material as possible, with the existing MediaWiki installation used as the publishing platform. The grant also paid for wifi access points and tablets, allowing visitors to access the Index within the museum, as additional background information and context for the exhibits.
2014 – Bassett-Lowke
After the Hornby anniversary project had created a critical mass of material on one of Britain's biggest toymakers, we spent early 2014 focusing on expanding the Index's coverage of classic toymaking company Bassett-Lowke Ltd, making it one of the top-ranking internet sites on the subject. The Index's general coverage continued to expand with the help of more scans and transcriptions from the museum's archives.
2015 – Staff
2015 saw the Index gain a paid staff-member, with the number of online visitors now exceeding 5,000/month
2016 – Dollhouse furniture and miniatures
Having a paid staff member allowed the number of content pages and images to expand to nearly 5000+5000, and the number of monthly visitors to increase, to over 8,000/ month. An initiative was started to expand coverage of dollhouses and dollhouse miniatures (an area that the Index had previously somewhat neglected), and it was decided to rebrand the index as a resource in its own right.


Editing access is currently reserved for museum personnel.

As of September 2016, the new logo theme for the project is the "Glass Marble".

A glass marble is a toy whose surface literally reflects the world around it.

Digitisation policy

The Index has a different approach to most existing catalogue image archival projects:

While we do scan full pages from catalogues, our current focus is on individual products rather than on producing facsimile catalogues in PDF format. We crop out individual items and (depending on the "value" of the image) sometimes apply quite severe processing and editing to try to get as close back to the original artist's artwork. We often paint out background paper textures, and if images and text are separated on the page, crop to the image and then reposition the corresponding text beneath or alongside. The result is not always a traditional, literal, warts-and-all "archival" scan, but we find that this approach is better suited for the web - with single-item images we can embed more intensive and specific embedded metadata, and can upload images with a higher resolution than is typically used for "full-page" archives. Where the source material is available, a page on a product might include two or three different catalogue images from different years, showing "at a glance" the product's evolution in terms of detailing, description and price.

This approach is more labour-intensive than just scanning a full catalogue and dumping the images into a PDF file, but we feel that the "added value" is worth it.

Cookies policy

The Index uses Google Analytics to monitor traffic statistics, and ... that's it. Some of our display plugins might use javascript to show and hide panels, but we have a policy of NOT installing plugins or code that tracks people across websites. Our Facebook, Twitter and PayPal icons on the left of the page are deliberately "dumb" icons with old-fashioned links that only do anything if you deliberately click on them. We do not install the usual recommended social media "widgets" which "report back" to social media companies every time you load someone's page. We think those are sucky.