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Soviet Playtime—Characters and Cosmonauts
This Soviet era trade catalog for toys was intended for non-Russian audiences, and was produced by the Raznoexport Company in Moscow. This firm sold all sorts of consumer goods of Russian manufacture for export; the text is in English and French. Textiles, rugs, tobacco, bicycles, cut glass, and building materials among other goods were marketed...
Boys Will Be Boys
This children’s wallpaper is based on the story of Max and Moritz, A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks, written by Wilhelm Busch in 1865. The illustrations are loosely based on the originals and show the characters of Max and Moritz committing one of their pranks; actually it is prank number three played on the friendly...
Pilgrim’s Progress, the wallpaper
One of the influences on design and technology in the nineteenth century was new information on health and hygiene. It was discovered early in the century that germs cause disease, and there were a number of cholera outbreaks beginning early in the nineteenth century which lasted through most of the century. Wallpaper had always been...
Butcher-in-a-Box
How can you draw customers inside your shop, when exposing wares in a window is not an option? This framed wooden butcher’s shop might be an answer.  Although it is unclear to what uses this framed life-like model of a butcher’s shop might have been put, the fact that it is framed and behind glass,...
Miniature of a store made with solid back and two sidewalls, front panels showing two painted windows and central opening for doorway with "Grocery Stores" above it. Against the back wall, a cabinet with shelves and partitions and 16 drawers (-2b - -2l) each with a gold painted knob and handwritten paper label. One each for: almonds, annis seed, cacao, cinnamon, cloves, fenel, mace, millet, pepper, pimento, raisins, rice, saffron, sape, vermicelle (one drawer not labelled); two free-standing barrels (-2l and -2m), and two tables (-2n and -2o), each with a post (-2p and -2q) supporting one end of an arch (-2r) from which hangs a pair of scales (-2x - -2z). Pencil scribblings over outside of structure.Possibly English. In 1820's style, possibly early 19th century.
Big on Miniature
Seventeenth-century Dutch socialites Petronella de la Court and Petronella Oortman, the dauphin of France, Queen Victoria, and Queen Mary had them: dollhouses and miniature replicas of masterworks of furniture and decorative arts, through which they could recreate their larger-than-life existence.  The popularity of these Lilliputian marvels extended well into the twentieth century, when doll-sized houses,...
Molded, laminated wood form of T-shaped back, square seat, the sides bending to form four flat legs; front of seat bent down to form short apron; back with small heart-shaped cut-out in center, attached to seat with three metal fasteners. Red-stained finish.
Minimalism in the Playroom
Experimenting with the possibilities of molded plywood during World War II allowed influential design couple Charles and Ray Eames to perfect a cheaper alternative to metal leg splints. The lightweight design proved to be a life-saving innovation for wounded soldiers. At the end of the war, the Eamses redirected their improved understanding of molded plywood...
A group of three children in the center of a grassy lawn with a large shadow of a swastika looming over them. One of the boy stands while holding a toy plane while another in a paper hat holds up an American flag. A girl sits in front of them, holding a doll. In the lower margin is the text, "Don't Let That Shadow Touch Them / Buy WAR BONDS."
Throwing Some Serious Shade
In the midst of World War II, the war effort was reliant upon the purchase of war bonds by the American population. In 1942, the military could not hold off the encroaching armies without the support of Americans. Graphic designer Lawrence Beall Smith dramatically presented the necessity of war bonds to the public by showing...
Fit for a Girl – Or a Boy?
Do you wonder why this early eighteenth-century silk dress is labeled a “child’s dress” and not a “girl’s dress”? You may be surprised to learn that both young girls and boys wore dresses at this time, a practice that actually continued into the first decades of the twentieth century. Before the sixteenth century, European men...
Two library books, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie-The-Pooh
Two Books
The two greatest children’s books of all time. They transcend time and place and age. They are wise and funny. You will be grateful to read them every few years. When you hold a (real) book in your hands, the molecules in your body rejoice. They are flooded with peace and expectation. Nothing else gives that feeling....