Toys and Games of The Industrial Revolution

Entertainment and leisure activities have always been a part of life and Rancho Los Cerritos, as reflected by the diverse range of toys and games in the RLC collection. During the Victorian age a wider selection of toys and games became available to the general public because of improved transportation systems including the railroad. This period also saw improvements in manufacturing, as the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, resulting in more mechanized toys. Toys could now be mass-produced in factories, a shift away from the hand-made toys and games of the early nineteenth century.

Parlor games played indoors were popular pastimes for adults of the Victorian age. Such activities trickled down to children who enjoyed indoor games such as cards, dominos, and puzzles. Games played outdoors were also in fashion; for children they might have included croquet, horseshoes, or marbles. Many of the toys and games of the RLC collection also reflect an interest in education and learning, which was a trend in the toys and games of the Victorian period.


Please click on the images to view details of the artifacts

Iron toy horse pulling a “sulky” or horse-drawn wagon with two wheels.  Horse features lithographed details on either side. Legs of horse and wheels of cart move when propelled forward manually. Donated by Friends of Rancho Los Cerritos

Alphabet game in a cylindrical wooden box with screw-top lid houses a set of 2” cardboard discs with bold letters on one side and animals on the other. Reminiscent of both “Pogs”, a popular playground game of the 1990s, and “Memory”, showing this game could be interesting to children (and perhaps adults) of any era. Donated by Dr. Ward G. DeWitt.

Set of forty-five playing cards featuring the faces of eleven famous authors including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe. Card games such as Old Maid and Donkey were favored by Victorian era children, while Poker and Cribbage would have appealed the adult card players. Manufactured by Whitman Publishing Co, U.S.A., 1900.

Donated by Lois H. Nissen.

Game titled “Nerve Croquet” with metal ball encased in a wooden box with glass cover. The object of this game is to nimbly guide the ball through the metal “wickets”, each given a points value. Similar plastic versions are available today, a testament to the game’s continued popularity.

Donated by Lois H. Nissen

Tin mechanical duck with three ducklings being pulled in a green and yellow cart. The three ducklings bob up and down, and legs of the mother duck move as the toy is manually pushed forward. Today you might spot a similar set of feathered friends in the pond of the RLC central courtyard. 1903.

The Zilotone is a wind-up toy phonograph and xylophone combination with a tin clown that strikes metal keys to produce notes/sounds. Notes are determined by a metal disk inserted in the mechanism. This particular Zilotone was manufactured by Wolverine Supply & Mfg. Co., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and dates between 1918 and 1935, making it a newer toy than most in the RLC collection.

Five metal geared records for the Zilotone a mechanical toy zylophone. Songs include American classics: “Listen to the Mockingbird”, “Yankee Doodle”, “Silent Night”, and “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Two wooden puzzles that form a rocking chair and barrel. Although the date of these puzzles is unknown, they appear to be mass-produced, yet recall the handmade toys and games of the pre-industrial era.

Donated by Lois H. Nissen

Set of three heavy paper jigsaw puzzles, which tell the story of Cinderella through small, highly-detailed vignettes.

Tin mechanical blacksmith at work with his hammer, tongs, and anvil, operated manually by a tin handle at base. This toy was perfectly suited for the 1870s sheep herding life at Rancho Los Cerritos.

Wooden box containing a set of Chinese puzzles, manufactured by McLoughlin Bros. Publishers, New York.

Victorian era music box encased in wood case with picture of two dogs, and porcelain grip on handle. The music box was a given to Florence L. Bixby in 1886 by her cousin Alice Hooper. Plays the song “Air From Mikado”, and still functions today.

Children’s toy tea service set made of green China in the “Dotty Dimple” pattern. Set consists of two cups, two saucers, creamer, sugar bowl & teapot with lids, and oval black lacquer tray. This tea service was adopted by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and underwent slight restorations.