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Toys

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TOYS, American, Manufacture of. To teH the story of the art of toy-making from its earliest days it would be necessary to follow the industry back through many centuries, for the archeologists, in delving among the tombs of ancient Greece and Egypt, have made the sur prising discovery that children played with dolls —and jointed dolls at that— more than 5,000 years ago. Moreover, by the side of these dolls the scientists have unearthed other playthings that children still crave: dolls' furniture, the utensils for cooking and for keeping shop, and, what is perhaps more interesting from the point of view of the antiquarian, the articles used by the priests in making the sacrifices, cleverly duplicated in miniature, showing that the chil dren of those times also played at having re ligious exercises for the benefit of their dolls.

Scientists now claim that the custom of playing with dolls is one that is practically as old as the world itself, and they base their as sumption upon the theory that playthings are and always have been just as necessary a con stituent of human health and development as either food or medicine. The most eminent modern psychologists support this theory. They claim that the reason why children crave toys is that their nature requires them, and that to deprive them of such playthings would be to retard their mental growth and development.

In spite of the early origin of toys the prog ress in the manufacture of playthings was so slow that e.ven as late as 100 years ago they were few in number, simple of construction and extremely costly, especially in the United States. At that time no such articles were systematically manufactured in this country, and as the. cost of importation added materially to the price, there were comparatively few persons who were financially able to purchase such puppets for their little ones. Instead. the chil dren of those days accepted more primitive playthings — dolls that were often not dolls at all, but pieces of cloth, either folded and pinned in such manner as to suggest the ((shape') that was not there, or with head and bust stuffed hard with sawdust, the features being indicated by pen and ink drawing. In addition to these dolls there were a few other toys that could be purchased for children, but hoops, jumping ropes, ten-pins, marbles, pop-guns, the jack-in the-box the battledoor and shuttlecock, a few simple games, some rcrughly illustrated books, alphabet blocks, etc., represented the limit of the toy-sellers' stock.

So far as America is concerned the toy making industry is of so recent an origin that it can scarcely be said to have a history. Be fore 1875 more than 90 per cent of the toys sold in this country were of foreign manufac ture, and we have made no attempt to export such few articles as we did make into other countries. To-day, on the other hand, scarcely 5 per cent of the toys we sell are made abroad, while our exports are increasing rapidly.

To obtain anything like an accurate idea of the great progress that this nation has made in the art of toy-making it is necessary to remem ber that up to about 1875 there was not a doll factory in the United States, and that such other toys as were-manufactured in American turning •mills were cheap in quality and unprepossessing in appearance. When the American manu facturers began to.make toys, about a quarter of a century ago, they found that it would be extremely difficult for them to compete suc cessfully with the foreign toy-makers in the field which they had occupied for so long. In the first place material was cheaper in Europe, and there could be no comparison between the comparatively good wages paid to workmen in this country and the miserable pittance allowed in those German and Swiss villages where the entire population was held under contract to produce such goods at prices that barely enabled them to keep body and soul together. To over come this difficulty American inventive genius was called into play, with the result that the local manufacturers not only established many new lines of toy. specialties but that they evolved countless ingenious contrivances that the for eign producer has never dreamed of malcing. Thus while we still import some dainty toys from France and Switzerland, nearly all the newest and most unique productions are now made in America.

Simple toys are made mostly of wood and metal, using the sam.e principles employed by mechanical engineers in the malcing of duplicate machinery. A design having been decided on, and reduced to its most simple elements, gigs are fashioned so that each piece is a duplicate of every other piece, and the construction is pushed through on the American factory system. Many toys are really model machines, as steam-en gines, locomotives, cars, carriages, fire-engines, automobiles, tanks, etc.• others are mere figures or puppets, as the Noali's ark men, wooden sol diers and the like; others are miniatures of com mon household articles, as chairs, tables, plates, cups, spoons, etc., assured to be proper for the furnishing of a doll's house. Others are very elaborate and costly as goat's carriage, push mobiles, working locomotives, contractors' ma chinery, imitation large figures of elephants, dogs and Teddy bears, hobby horses, etc. Some single toys in playthings sell at retail between $100 and $200, which is not considered extrava gant by the rich.

The United States census compiles together tbe manufacturers of toys and games. It is not possible wholly to separate the two, but it appears that there were in 1914 about 200 estab lishments wholly devoted to toy-making, and as many more partly devoted to the industry, which gives employment to about 5,000 persons, with annual products valued at $8,000,000.