Even though many of the kids in the Victorian era had a rough life, they were still kids. They enjoyed playing just as I did when I was a child. Despite many of them being required to work long shifts, if they could afford toys, they had them. However, generally it was only the upper and middle class that had any toys at all.
The industrial revolution did change a lot of things. However, early only in the Victorian era toys were still primarily being made by hand. Any toys that were purchased were probably built by a skilled craftsman. Lower class perhaps built their own toys that were given during popular festivals such as Christmas.
Toys were very few and far between simply because of the expense and time that it took to build them. Therefore, unlike today where many of us have rooms full of toys, it was not uncommon to see even upper-class children to be limited to what they had to play with.
Later on in the Victorian era, as the industrial revolution really began to change the way of life for many people, toys were becoming increasingly popular. Since many of them were being mass produced in a short period of time with minimal effort, the pricing of the toys dropped drastically. It was now not so uncommon to see even the lower class children having a handful of small toys.
One of the major changes brought about within the Victorian era by the industrial revolution is the appearance of the toys that were available in the markets. Prior to this, almost all toys were handcrafted which typically meant some type of wood and sometimes a metal of some kind.
What were Victorian poor and rich kid’s toys?
Poor Victorian children mostly played with homemade toys like dolls, marbles and balls made of rags with some filler. Rich kids could afford manufactured toys like a rocking horse, train sets, puzzles and board games.
Other popular indoor toys for wealthy kids were tea sets, toy soldiers and puppets. Those who had money could buy visually-stimulating toys such as kaleidoscopes and toys that created moving pictures. Popular board games included checkers, chess and Snakes and Ladders.
Reading books was another favourite past time. They also played soccer at school, which was encouraged by teachers.
Popular outdoor toys
Hoop and stick, Skipping ropes were simple and popular outdoor games. Poor children would use discarded rope pieces that they could lay their hands on, while rich children would have skipping ropes with carved handles.
Many children were not allowed to play with toys on Sundays, except for toys with religious themes, such as Noah’s Ark sets.
The toy colors were limited and often somewhat poor quality. However, with the introduction of mass production with metals and numerous colors available with the introduction of new dyes, toys took on a new look that was very eye catching and bright.