*** American toys construction toys

American Toys: Construction Toys

construction sets
Figure 1.--The photographic record shows very significant differences. This is the case in 19th century studio portarits. This can be explained as studio props provided by the photographer. Only with the advent of the snapshot in the 20th century, we see what children are actually playing with and it is the boys that are playing with construction sets. Here we have a family scene in the 1910s. Th boys asre playing with wooden blocks. I think the older boy is reading instructions as to what can be built. The girl has no interest in what the boys are doing. She is reading a book, we suspect a child's fiction book. I doubt very seriously is that motyher discouraged her from playing blocks with the boys.

Construction sets beginning with basic wooden blocks were popular. Blocks were used as baby, toddler toys, often with letter or number faces. This made them helpful learning as well as play devices. We are not sure when they first appeared, but we have noticed them in 19th century toy stores. I recall my blocks had ridges that fitted together. Funny, along with my teddy this is among my earliest memories. This presumably was a 20th century innovation. Older children had more advanced construction toys. They have included metal Erector sets, wooden Lincoln Logs, and more recently plastic Lego sets. Lego sems to have suplnted all the former types of construction toys, excepts for the blocks that very young children play with. These construction toys seem mostly national toys--at least in the major industrial countries. The same toys in Europe had national mames, meaning the private companies that manufactured them. Erector sets were called Meccano sets in Britain. There were similar toys in France and Germany. Lego seems the first real interntional construction toy. Construction toys were almost exclusively boy toys. I recall as a boy in the 1950s, that construction toys sets with my toy soldiers were among my very favorite toys. The girls I knew had no interest in them. Lego has made some effort to appeal to girls, but as far as we can tell with very limited success. This notable gender in toys is especially substantial with construction sets. Femkinist authors will say it is gender roles being eforced by parents. This may have been a partial cause earlier, but much less today. Antone who has ever worked with small children know there are very real gender differences which apeear at veryb early ages. In this case, girls on average are simply less interested in construction sets than boys. And this has consequnces for the much written about pay differential.


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Created: 3:03 PM 7/10/2023
Last updated: 3:03 PM 7/10/2023