Childhood Toys and Dolls
We now have over a thousand dolls, ranging in date from the late eighteenth century to the 1980s. Some of them are very unusual, like the Westwood 'fertility doll' which is credited with helping Eliza Westwood to have thirteen children in the mid-nineteenth century, or the peddler doll whose head is made of a dried apple which was pickled in vinegar. We also have fine examples by many of the major makers from Jumeau to Meech and Bru to Pierotti. The dolls range in size from a few millimetres to over a metre. To accompany the dolls we have a wide range of dolls' clothes and accessories. We also have several fine dolls' houses including one which was made in Sussex in the 1840s.
Our toy collection gives endless pleasure and is growing steadily. We have bears of every shape and size, board and card games and jigsaw puzzles dating back to the nineteenth century, clockwork and early optical toys, bricks, tops, farms, trains and model soldiers. As well as early 'Dissected Maps' which were an early, strictly educational form of jigsaw puzzle we have a number of other early educational toys and enthralling collection of children's books and associated material. The recent Colin Mears Bequest of children's books and associated material has helped to make this collection one of the best in the country.