Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Figure of the Day: A Victorian Jack in the Box, 1820-50

German Jack in the Box
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In Britain in the 1820s and 1830s, caricatures were representing people from all walks of life were a popular art-form which crossed into a variety of media. This rough caricature of a peasant woman a bold grin and a full face adorns the box of a jack-in-the-box toy.

Jack-in-the-box figures like this were popular and readily available in the early Victorian era. While vaguely frightening, such toys were considered a fashionable and suitable way to not only entertain tots, but to also provide children with their first awareness of basic scientific and cause-and-effect principles. While this one may seem disturbing compared to more modern and jolly jacks in the box, this one is a good representation of the toys of the era.

The paper covered wooden box holds the aformentioned caricature of a woman made of composition and cloth with a metal spring. Her hands are on the wrong arms and have been since it was made. Printed in black script is:

“What wonder Miss/May be in this? Make me free and You'll see.”

The toy was made in Germany between 1820 and 1850.

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