Toy companies and souvenir makers were quick to seize on ‘Queen Mary-fever' helping to spread her reputation as a symbol of wonder, opulence and achievement. This rare wooden model kit was one of a series made by the British toy and model maker Bassett-Lowke around the time of Queen Mary's launch.
Paya is located in Alicante, Spain where it continues to make vintage reproduction toys in the tradition begun by Raimundo Paya in the early 20th century. As this aircraft carrier moves along the little red aeroplanes circle the boat.
Charles Rossignol founded his toy company in Paris in 1868. It originally made small tin-plate floor trains and cars, and later added toy boats and buses to its range. Rossignol boats are usually friction or (as in this example) clockwork-powered and often rock or bob up and down as they move as if they are at sea.
Wooden Noah's Arks were one of the few toys considered suitable for play on a Sunday as they aided the moral and spiritual education of children. Probably originating in Germany in the early 19th century, they often came with a wide array of animals which could be packed away inside the ark. This example has ninety-nine animals and two human figures.
Newspapers and magazines, whose circulation grew rapidly during this period, brought the maritime world into the home. They described technological wonders, naval battles, maritime disasters and celebrated ship launchings, to which toy-makers reacted with a range of nautically inspired toys and games.
Made some 30 years before the widespread use of clockwork in toys, Dolphin is one of the earliest clockwork-powered toys in existence. It may have been made as a gift or instructional model, commissioned for the family of the Duke of Northumberland who once owned it.
Maker: Alan Hunt; British, 1822
National Maritime Museum,
SLR0149; Repro ID D6955