Children's Toys

Children's Toys

Visitors, young and old, will enjoy seeing some of the 500 or so items from our collection of dolls, teddy bears, dolls' houses and games dating from the 19th century onwards.  Each year the display is changed to reflect a particular theme.

The Toy display for 2019 is an eclectic mix of bears and dolls that have climbed out of the toy box.


Mr Punch sits up high on his swing gazing down at the teddy bears in the basket.

Mary Ann, Katy and Rowan are playing in the trunk and the smaller dolls are sitting on their chairs waiting to be entertained by the clockwork pig (find the video on this website on the latest news page).


Who knows what Seraphine, Lulu, Yum Yum and Muffy get up to once the visitors have gone!”

Mr Punch

The 2016 display had as its theme ‘In the Nursery of the Recent and Distant Past’, with various toys that would have been children’s favourites in the past, and matching period pictures newly hung in the refurbished cabinet.  For wealthy families in Victorian and Edwardian times a nursery was a suite of rooms at the top of a house, including the night nursery, where the children slept, and a day nursery, where they ate and played, or a combination of the two.  Fictional portrayals of nurseries abound, for example in the writings of Kipling and E. Nesbit; perhaps the most famous nursery is that in the Mary Poppins books of P.L. Travers, or the nursery in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

Peter, the toy bear
Noah’s Ark with animals

Peter, the toy bear seen here, was one of the so-called rare ‘Blissful’ bears made in the USA from 1907 by the short-lived Bruin Manufacturing Company.  Such bears carry the company’s label stitched to the bottom of the foot; their characteristics include a humped back, a triangle shaped muzzle which comes directly out from the forehead, black wooden boot button eyes and embroidered claws on the paws.


Toys in the display include  wooden blocks used at the schools run by Miss Joan Bannister at various locations  in Budleigh Salterton from 1931 to 1991.  There is also a jigsaw depicting Queen Victoria’s dolls; it was issued by The London Museum to accompany its 1969 exhibition entitled ‘Two Hundred Years of Jigsaw Puzzles’. 

A display in 2015 was entitled ‘Past Times’, which included some of the toys in the Museum’s collection.  One of the attractions was this Noah’s Ark with animals.

Another was Ursula, a mechanical walking doll probably made by the French doll maker Jules Steiner (1832-1902) which moved with the help of three wheels set into the base of a cone.

A mechanical walking doll
Bowman locomotive

This green Bowman locomotive dates from the 1930s.  The exhibition conveyed the idea of ‘the Magic of Childhood’.  A few of the items could be termed educational, but the majority reflected a sense of fun and enjoyment.

Fairlynch bear, Cecil
Fairlynch bear Muffy

The 2014 exhibition was entitled ‘Hidden Treasures’ and included Fairlynch bear Muffy.

Another Fairlynch bear, Cecil, seen here wearing his WW1 medal, was part of ‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ exhibition.


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