Look through the pages of a rare antique children's book from the 1850s
showing hand-colored engravings of popular toys in a Victorian toy shop. The book, Wonderful Toy Shop, was published by PHILIP J. COZANS Publisher, Bookseller, Stationer, and VALENTINE MANUFACTURER No. 107 Nassau Street, N.Y.
Up until the late 18th century and early 19th century, the toy-making business was primarily a cottage industry, consisting of local artisans crafting items for agents who sold the toys to merchants. Antique toys for children were primarily purchased from peddlers, stalls in a market, or in shops mixed in with other goods.
By the late 18th century antique children's books such as Cobwebs to Catch Flies (1783) and The Toy-Shop (1787) begin to show illustrations of London toyshops. Most Victorian children had few toys and had little chance to play because they started work at a young age. Toys were scarce and rudimentary -- a clothes peg doll perhaps, a hoop, or some marbles. Some materials for quiet play were provided such as paper, scraps, scissors, and paste for scrapbooking or pages of paper dolls from ladies magazines. Sometimes Victorian toys were used for specific educational ends. Jigsaws, geographic and historical games of reconstruction were designed both to entertain and to instruct. Favorite toys were saved for special occasions.
The more elaborate antique toys of the period often featured fine craftsmanship but these toys were enjoyed by a small minority of children, primarily those of affluent families. The Wonderful Toy Shop (1852) is a mid-19th century children's book, published in the 1850s by Philip J. Cozans in New York, illustrating what would be found in an 1850's toyshop. The book has hand-colored wood engravings of a man showing a group of children the toys in his shop. The group of children passing the toy shop stand in wonder admiring the different toys in the shop window -- dolls, dolls' houses, games, puppets, blocks and more. Their eyes are fixed with wonder and surprise on the variety of toys of wood, wax, tin, and rubber piled within. The toys include dolls, dollhouses, musical instruments, guns, rocking-horses, soldiers, bow and arrows, blocks, tools, kites, and wagons.
This fabulous antique toy book was first published by Dean and Co., London, England in 1852 under the title of Wonders of a Toy Shop. Cozans just added a new illustrated cover page and title to the British book, plus changed the name of the toyshop from "London Toy Warehouse" to just "Toy Warehouse." The British title was also published by J.Q. Preble, New York, in the 1850s and can be seen in the Library of Congress Rare Books Department. The antique children’s’ book is illustrated with unusually large size pictures, brightly hand-colored, and printed with type expressly adapted for the young folks.
Explore each page below for a digital view of this antique book
discover a selection of children's Victorian toys of the 1850s.