Toys in the Early 1900s

The early 1900s were very different from today. Toys, though they have evolved in many ways, were still the delight of children everywhere. Explore the history of toys, as charted by the History website.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidency marks the beginning of the “Teddy Bear.” In the year 1902, toy bears were named “Teddy” after the president’s nickname. The Teddy Bear became known world wide, and is still known and loved today. It was only a few years later when the Teddy Bears were mass produced.

Crayola crayons were made for the first time ever in 1903 by Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith.

In 1913, an item called the Erector Set was invented. It was a steel, motorized toy that children could use to build models of just about anything. Its creator was A.C. Gilbert, a medical doctor.

Charles Pajeau created a similar wooden set called Tinker Toys in the year 1914. Tinker Toys was made for younger children.

Raggedy Ann dolls first came on the scene after newspaper cartoonist Johnny Gruelle reproduced the doll he made for his daughter. That was in 1915.

The following year, an architect’s son named John Lloyd Wright, invented Lincoln Logs, which were interlocked to make structures.

Polystyrene was invented in 1927, and it is the kind of plastic that was used for making toys in the early days.

Two years after Mickey Mouse was created (which was in 1928), stuffed Mickey Mouse dolls were made by Charlotte Clark. This was the start of Disney merchandise.

The yo-yo became popular in the United States after Donald Duncan bought a yo-yo company in 1929.

Scrabble was developed from a game called Criss Cross, invented by Alfred M. Butts in 1931. It became known as Scrabble after James Brunot bought the rights from Butts, and trademarked the game with this new name. Now more than a million Scrabble games are purchased every year in North America.

In 1935, the Parker Brothers introduced Monopoly. This game is so popular today that there are many different clones of this game, many of which are just as popular.

The View-Master, a three dimensional viewer was developed by a camera enthusiast named William Gruber. The toy became popular when Gruber licensed Disney characters to make still, 3-D images from Disney movies and television programs.

Finally, in 1940, model airplanes were mass produced. They started out as a way for manufacturers to sell planes to the military, but later caught on as a toy.

The toys that we know and love today have had their roots from these ancient times. Isn’t it interesting to know that if it weren’t for all these creative people most of the games you know today, would never have been?

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