This large toy paddle steamer shows the extreme sizes that some toy boats reached even by the turn of the century. At 1.3 metres (4.3 feet) in length, Honfleur would have been difficult for anyone to handle, let alone a child, and may have been made as an exhibition piece rather than a working toy. Sadly we do not know who made her.
19th-century town planning led to a rise in the number of public spaces in cities and towns. These often had decorative ponds and fountains where children could play with an assortment of toy boats. As coastal holidays became popular, toy boats were also essential accessories for a trip to the seaside.
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 It originally made small tin-plate floor trains and cars, and later added toy boats and buses to its range.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.