Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Christmas is the most anticipated festive season for children in our culture, and it is easy to find out why: presents. Finding long-desired toys under the dressed-up Christmas tree is one of the best moments of the year, and this was the case dozens or even a hundred years ago, too. Here are some nostalgic photos of those long gone moments of joy.

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(I took these images from the amazing collection of Fortepan, one of the best depots of private photographs in the world. These shots were taken mostly in wealthy, middle-class European families, mostly in Hungary.)

A miniature theater, a miniature kitchen (1909)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A rocking horse, a humming top, a rubber ball, a wooden toy rifle (1929)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


Two baby carriages, a really nice pedal car (1930)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Dolls, board games, an abacus, new shoes (1931)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A model train set, dolls, a doll house, a polar bear, a toy cat, a wind-up motorbiker, a board game, a set of toy skittles (1930)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A tricycle, a toy trumpet, lead soldiers, toy kitchenware, a toy violin (1935)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A smaller model train set, a huge model train set, a doll (1939)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A tin toy truck, a wind-up tin toy car, a wind-up tin toy armored vehicle, a wooden 4-horse-drawn carriage, plush animals, and children’s books (1940)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Several tin toy vehicles: a fire engine, a tram, a crane, a truck, a tractor etc (1940)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


A model train set, dolls, a piano, a drum, a truck, a kitchen stove, a wooden cavalry (1942)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


A model train set, a tin toy hydroplane, a tin toy truck, a tank, a cannon, a humming top, a wooden car (1942)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


A tricycle, a clapping cat, a musical drum, a clapping squirrel, a castle, a tin toy plane, a plastic bear, a horse-drawn cart, a baby carriage with a big doll (1942)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


Wooden blocks and model train set (1950)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Wooden bus, wooden tram, wooden truck (1952)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Wooden fire engine and wind mill (1953)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Dolls, board games, and a remote controlled tin toy car (1958)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


Books, dollhouse furniture, a model train set (1962)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


A Hungarian made construction set called “Babylon” (1965)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago

Photo: Fortepan


A Hungarian made battery operated tin toy lunar car, a Piko model train set, a Hungarian made friction tin toy airplane, and a battery operated tin toy bulldozer (1965)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


A plastic rocket launcher, a Hungarian made friction tin toy car (Packard), a Chinese made tin toy spaceship (“Rocket Express”), an oil tanker truck, and a construction set (1966)

Illustration for article titled A Brief Pictorial Account of What Children Got for Christmas Decades Ago
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Photo: Fortepan


Top photo: Fortepan, 1942

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