In 1997 we bought our first toys from our local auction house – Hartley’s – when they sold the collection of the Ribchester Museum of Childhood.
At that time all the major London auction houses held several toy sales every year and we were lucky in that once we had decided to create the museum that some great toy collections came up for sale.
Evelyn Way Kendall
The Evelyn Way Kendall collection, from a New England USA museum, was sold at Sotheby’s in 1999 and we managed to acquire some fabulous exhibits here.
Thomas the Sad Teddy
Our school visitors’ favourite teddy bear-Thomas, who has a very sad story – came from the sale of the Brighton Bears Museum in 1998 along with his friends Boris and Blanche.
Also in 1999 Bonhams sold the famous collection of Dolls Houses belonging to Vivien Greene (wife of Graham Greene, the author) –the prices were quite extraordinary but we managed to buy The Original Swan which has been on display from the day we opened.
Lady Potter Palmer
We bought the first of our 18th century dolls at Christies in 1998-Lady Potter Palmer. Her strange eyes and lack of hair are unusual but she has the most beautiful original dress. Our wooden dolls are still my favourite things in the museum.
Lady Potter Palmer
Lady Potter Palmer
Lady Potter Palmer is a very rare and unusual carved and painted lime wood doll made around 1770. We are not sure of her country of origin. She is wearing all her original clothes –a chintz sack back open robe and petticoat. Unfortunately she has lost most of her hair from her linen backed wig and she has an unusual expression on her face.
Lady Potter Palmer was bought by the wealthy Potter Palmer family of Chicago in 1880 during a visit to Paris. Bertha Palmer was an enthusiastic collector of art particularly Impressionist paintings. The Potter Palmer paintings now form the core collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. When Berthas husband made his will he left a large sum of money to whoever married Bertha next. When asked why he said “Because he’ll need it !”
Sindy’s house was a childhood toy of Nicola Walton. She must have been a very careful child as she kept all the boxes for the house and its furniture. Sindy was launched in 1963 by Pedigree Toys. She was the best selling toy in the UK in 1968 and in 1970. In front of the house, holding her horse Peanuts, is a 1960’s Sindy in her “Weekender” outfit. Her boyfriend, Paul, is visiting Sindy today.
The Bear with a sad story
Thomas is an English bear made in about 1930. Thomas was given to a little boy called Jonathan just before his second birthday. One day at his family cottage in Norfolk Jonathan wandered off, fell into the river and drowned. When Jonathan was found he was clutching Thomas the bear.
Thomas was put on the mantelpiece at home with Jonathan’s picture next to him. Jonathan’s big sister Charlotte talked to Thomas and asked him questions about Jonathan. Charlotte would tell her parents that Jonathan was happy and loved them all. One day Charlotte suddenly shouted out “ No Jonathan, that’s naughty” and then an ornament fell to the floor and broke. Thomas was put away in a hall cupboard but one day the cupboard fell over and Charlotte said “ You see Thomas wants to come out of the cupboard.” Charlotte continued to talk to Thomas for many years.
An unusual terrace of two houses (Numbers 1 & 2 ) with original painted brickwork, fanlights and glazing bars. Some original wallpaper.
Look out for these interesting items:
This house is featured on pages 70 & 71 of Dolls Houses by Olivia Bristol and Leslie Geddes-Brown.
This lovely children’s stove with its copper pans can do some real cooking as spirit burners are placed inside and lit. The Marklin firm was founded in 1859 by William Marklin, a master tinsmith. His wife, Caroline, took on the business when William fell through a trap door which had been left open by an apprentice and died. The firm became renowned manufacturers of toy trains and boats.
An early 20th century cardboard theatre by Benjamin Pollock with some mid 19th century figures and back drops for the play, “Aladdin”. They are hand coloured and “tinselled”, a hobby popular in Victorian times where foils and other materials were pasted on to figures. They would twinkle in the candlelight during a performance.
A Tudor Stump Baby
As a readily available material, many early toys were made of wood. Agnes is a simply made toy but beautifully smooth to hold and perfect for a child’s hands. The word “doll” was not used for a toy until the late 17th century.
A Fine George III Wooden Doll with Yorkshire Connections
Miss Barwick has a gesso covered head, black enamelled eyes and a real hair wig. She wears quilted linen underclothes with a blue silk closed robe lacing at the back and matching shoes of brocaded silk. Her cloak is of late 18th century yellow silk. Miss Barwick’s contemporary sedan chair has brocade curtains and cushions and is embossed with an ornate letter “B”. The Barwick family hails from Yeadon, West Yorkshire and this doll has been in the family for several generations. Her sedan attendant is a Jules Steiner walking bisque doll-French circa. 1890. He has his original embroidered ivory silk coat with bustle.
Corgi Toys were formed as part of Mettoy in to compete with Dinky diecast models. Based in Swansea, Corgi introduced plastic windows and, later, such innovations as spring suspension and opening doors, bonnets, boots etc.
The display here shows the Corgi Silverstone Gift Set 15 from 1963-66 together with the Lotus Racing Team Gift Set 37 (1966-69), the Mobilgas Tanker (model 1110, 1959-65) and the Ecurie Ecosse Racing Transporter Gift Set 16 (1961-65).
The Silverstone Set came with the Airfix type plastic model buildings of the pits and press box ready to be painted and assembled.
Vladimir & Sophy
Vladimir & Sophy
Tete Jumeau Bisque dolls in original outfits A pair of dolls formerly the property of the Russian Royal Family Vladimir is in his Russian Imperial Navy outfit. His hat band is for the royal yacht Roxana – a yacht built for HRH Alfred 4th child of Queen Victoria who married the daughter of Czar Alexander II. Both dolls were brought out of Russia by Nellie West who was governess to Titi the son of Lily Dehn – a close friend of the Empress Alexandra of Russia. Family history is that the dolls belonged to the Grand Duchesses (daughters of the Empress) and were given by the Empress to Nellie for one of her many nieces. Also shown is a letter written by Nellie to a friend describing a visit to the Royal Yacht and a meeting with the Empress and Grand Duchesses.” This cousin at the Palace arranged for us to go to town for baby to see the Empress’s yacht which had arrived in the Neva (as the Emperor had come back for his Great Aunt’s funeral ) so we went with her and stood on the Imperial landing stage to watch it turn as it was to leave again that day after the funeral. The Empress did not go but remained on board with the children. It was a lovely day but fortunately, Her Majesty could see us in the distance and sent her two eldest daughters over in the pinnace to talk to us. They were so nice and what do you think, they arranged for us to go back in the pinnace with them to see the yacht, and the Empress received us so nicely…….”
Terpsichore – A Corinthian Terracotta Dancing Doll
Early 4th century BC
A female doll wearing a sphendone (ornamental headband) in her curly hair, pointed shoes, carrying castanets (?) in her left hand.
With some remains of painted decoration. Moulds for heads of this type have been found in the Potters Quarters at Corinth, Greece.
The British Museum has some similar Corinthian dolls.
A continental teddy bear with green plush, straw-filled and black button eyes. We have Eddie’s letter to father Xmas in 1915 which says-
Please Father Xmas will you try to bring these things -a windmill, an engine and a book and a stocking and a green teddy with black buttons for eyes.
Did you know?
Jane Austen, the famous author,
loved to play cup and ball.
Ilkley Toy Museum Ltd Reg No. 3444517
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