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National Museum of Australia

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Britians brand metal toy farm scenery accessory, gate and broken tree

2013.0038.0639

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Britians brand metal toy farm scenery accessory, gate and broken tree

Object information

Description

This assorted group of items held at National Museum of Australia have been brought together to give an insight into the collection of Britains? hollow cast Model Home Farm Series Models; scenery accessories, a gate and broken tree. The set is incomplete and should include the gate, tree, and a swing with a boy.

Physical description

A set of die-cast, lead paint coated, metal toy farm scenery accessories consisting of a five barred gate and a broken tree. The gate is made of thin-pressed cream metal sheet. It mounts onto two lugs on the tree by two hook hinges at one end. The tree is hollow and made of two parts joined together in the middle. It has moulded and painted features which include brown-grey bark and three green-brown lateral roots. Its branch with two lateral branches, is broken and detached from the tree. The branch has two metal hooks attached to it. The tree?s canopy is broken and missing. The gate can be opened and closed against the tree. The manufacturer's imprint on the underside of one lateral root reads, 'BRITAINS LTD'. The paint on both objects is worn, cracked and flaking.

Statement of significance

The Susan and Andrew Gibson collection comprises over 60 dolls; about 25 soft toys; dolls' clothes and accessories; a dolls' house; a toy piano; a miniature (once functioning) sewing machine; a Noah's Ark set; a tin fort; many sets of miniature figures and accessories including zoo, garden, farm, soldiers, huntsmen, Zulus, and cowboys & Indians; metal and wooden boats and planes; several sets of alphabet blocks; dress-up costumes; dominoes, marbles, Meccano and magnets; wheeled toys; a large rocking horse; a dolls' pram; toys for outdoor play; a toy box, and a rug to play on. Most of the toys show evidence of extensive use but some, including some of the dolls, are in fine condition.

Most of the collection relates to a decade of use from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, well into the era of the industrial mass production and globalisation of toys and toy brands which had begun in the late nineteenth century, but before the postwar merchandising of toys based on film and television productions. Many of the toys may have been locally produced but British and European brands are also strongly represented. The toys were played with by a single generation of children, Susan and Andrew Gibson, of 'Burrungurroolong', near Goulburn in NSW. The collection has been preserved largely intact by the family, and therefore offers a rich insight into childhood and the nature of play in that era.

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