As part of a series of classes I will be giving on Regency life, using objects rather just pictures, I am reconstructing various objects that are either very rare or only survive in pictures. Of these toys are the rarest as they were usually played to pieces.
I recently came across a print of 1818 entitled The English Ladies Dandy Toy, it shows a lady playing with a child’s toy, a Jumping Jack. This is a very ancient toy, which works by pulling the string making the legs move. The cartoon is probably a skit on the ‘Dandy’, the hyper-fashionable men of the early nineteenth century, suggesting that they are little more than toy boys for the ladies of the period, not real men.
The ‘Dandy Toy’ the lady is holding is clearly a caricature of the dandy of the period, a thin, corseted waist (men wore tighter corsets than women at this time!) and the very high neck cloth which could prevent the men turning the head.
I naturally wanted to make a ‘Dandy Toy’, so took an outline plan of a jumping jack, then adapted it to something approaching the toy the lady is holding. This was then stuck to a sheet of card and painted.
Finally it was cut out and fitted together with modern paper fasteners (the original would have used wire) and linked with heavy thread. And there I had a ‘Dandy Toy’.
And here is one being used in a brilliant fashion, indeed just as one might be used today. To distract a child as it is being vaccinated. A contemporary view of the way in which one of the most important medical advances of all time was implemented.