History is told through objects as much as words and documents. Few objects carry more emotional heft than the toys we played with as kids. This series of photographs by Andy Brown elegantly show us iconic playthings from the last 140 years.


The toys date from the 1870s to the 2000s. They were borrowed from various collections in the UK and photographed by Brown as a commission to decorate the walls of the Sheffield Children's Hospital.

What I like about Brown's photos is that each toy sits completely devoid of context, honoring the bare makeup of the object, and allowing each person's own associations and memories to seep in. And the fact that they are hung in a children's hospital, where so much human drama is being played out, provides an interesting contrast to the deadpan nature of the work.


Check out Andy Brown's website for the full gallery. [It's Nice That]

Zoetrope reel, 1870s

Doll, 1870s

Noahs Ark figure, 1880s

Marbles, 1880s

Paper soldiers, 1890s

Clockwork toy, 1900s

Teddy bear, 1910s

Jigsaw puzzle, 1930s

Building set, 1940s

Action Man, 1960s

James bond car, 1960s

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, 1980s

Game Boy, 1990s

Tamagotchi, 1990s

Furby, 1990s

Lego Bionicles, 2000s