Portugal: Toys

Figure 1.--The photo was taken in downtown Lisbon (December 1912). Two children are looking at a shop window ready for Christmas shopping. Possibly the photo was set by the photographer asking the children to pose. It looks like a toy shop. All we can make out is are toy horses, tin drums, a house, and mostly wooden toy chests. The image shows the gap between the few possible customers of these downtown shops and the large majority of the children as these ones, who go barefoot even in December (and then probably all year round) and wear old patched clothes already worn by several brother before them.

We do not yet have much infomation on Portuguese toys. As far as we can tell the popular toys in Portugal were the same as in neighboring Spain and France. Our information, however, is very limited. and we can not yet idenify what Portuguese children were playing with before World War II. We do not yet know of destinctive Portuguese toys. Girls of course like dolls. And because Portugal as such a poor country, a tradition of fixing broken dolls developed. One source reports on hospitals for dolls. "Lisbon's Hospital de Bonecas, or Doll Hospital, was founded in 1830. It's the oldest known facility of its kind, where seamstresses and handymen fix broken limbs and sew worn clothes on children's dolls. The facility is housed in an 18th-century row house off one of Lisbon's main cobblestone squares. Since the early 19th century, the Hospital de Bonecas has been performing surgery on children's beloved companions — their dolls. It's the oldest known facility of its kind, where seamstresses and handymen fix broken limbs and sew torn clothes on children's dolls. The current owner, Cutileira, used to be a teacher and took over the hospital from her parents when she retired." [Frayer] The best look at Portuguese toys van be found at the Portuguese Toy Museum in Ponte de Lima which has a collection of about 2,000 toys from the massive collection of Carlos Anjos. They include toys from the early 19th century to 1986, the date Portugal joined the European Community. Therea are tops, papier-mâché dolls, tin soldiers, trains, almost all nationally made. There are also rattles to pedal cars. Eventiall plastics and PVC dolls appear. A zinc train tells the story of some of the most important national toy manufacturers. Pieces arranged in chronological order, illustrate the socio-political transformations in Portugal. After World War II, Europe began to integrate and we begin to see pan-European fashions and cultures develop. An important factor affecting toys as the overall economy. Portugal in modern times was the poorest country in Western Europe and suffering from endemic poverty. This mean that many Portuguese parents could not afford to buy toys for their children. Some parents provided home-made toys. We have no information on Portuguese toys. We suspect what was not imprted was produced by arisianl craftsmen and were largely wooden or pottery items, but we also see cork being used, a material often associated with Portugal. We note one roy manufacturer--Majora. It was established in 1939.


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Created: 10:27 PM 10/16/2019
Last updated: 10:27 PM 10/16/2019