16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime

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

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Doll, 1870s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Noahs Ark figure, 1880s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Marbles, 1880s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Paper soldiers, 1890s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Clockwork toy, 1900s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Teddy bear, 1910s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Jigsaw puzzle, 1930s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Building set, 1940s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Action Man, 1960s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


James bond car, 1960s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, 1980s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Game Boy, 1990s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Tamagotchi, 1990s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Furby, 1990s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime


Lego Bionicles, 2000s

16 Classic Toys That Trace More Than a Century of Playtime