German Indoor Play

Figure 1.--Here we see two boys, we think German, playing chess in a family back garden. Chess was usually played indoors, but could be played outdoors on a nive day. The two boys look to be about10-14 years old. The interesting aspect is how formaly the boys are dressed. They probably come from a rather affluent background. Given the clothing, including the length of the trousers, we think the date must be either the late-1920s or early-30s. The boy on the right wears a short trousers suit with shirt and tie and long black stockings with low cut Oxford-style shoes. His opponent also wears a short pants suit but holds his black stockings up with white round garters which show when he is seated. Note that in this case the stockings are not long enough to cover the gap between his trouser hem and the stocking tops. The other boy seems to wear stockings of the proper length and probably is wearing a Strapsleibchen to hold them in place. The long stockings are clearly worn for formality, not warmth, since it is a nice summer or late spring day. I suspect the garden is attached to a private, upperclass, suburban house. Notice the octagonal wooden table and the substantial folding chairs.

Children engaged in a lot of indoor play activities. It was a home that they played with their toys. The Germans were well known for creating many wonderful toys. And these varied by age. It is a little tricky defining just what to include in the toy list. We note play sets becoming popular in the 20th century. And buklding sets like erector sets and legos were popular for boys. Puppets of various kinds led to drama and pretend activities. In addition, to toys were a variety of games, they included board games. There were initially a fairly narrow range of board games and most were more for adults than children. But by the late-19th century many new board games began to appear, many especially designed for children. Many American children did not play with cards for religious reasons. We are less sure abnout German children. Indoor photography was complicated so here the photographic record is less complere than for outdoor play. Of course gender was a major factor. Girls' indoor play was more likely to be docused around dolls.


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Created: 7:09 AM 9/17/2010
Last updated: 7:09 AM 9/17/2010