The Cabbagetown/Regent Park Museum has been collecting a wide selection of items and documents for current and future displays. These include 'Lost & Found' objects, which will become one of our future exhibitions. That collection is made up of objects that have been found in the neighbourhood homes and gardens in the process of restoration or renovation work. It also includes a wide range of artefacts found during the demolition and reconstruction of Regent Park. These range from early bottles, a 50s 'entertainment' centre; baseball cards and building records to contemporary toys.
Our toy collection is substantial and is made up of toys lent or donated by current and former residents of Cabbagetown/Regent Park. The catalyst for this collection was the generous loan of some of resident Maureen Penno's treasures. An early Erector set, Cupie doll, Shirley Temple doll, Lionel trains, Howdy Doody puppet and children's Carousel horse all form part of the compilation. There are also archival photographs of neighbourhood children with their favourites, as well as Victorian children's books, music scores, ads and past magazine articles.
Erector set in original box with original manual, 1912. This popular building toy was invented by Dr. Alfred Carlton Gilbert who got the inspiration while watching railroad workers building an electrical system out of steel girders. Courtesy of Carol Moore-Ede.
Small toy banks for depositing coins have been discovered in the tombs of ancient civilizations, but probably their purpose was more symbolic than practical. It is believed that the first mechanical bank dates to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.), China. In Europe, the production of toy banks for children was already well established in the 16th century, when a writer called them "boxes of potters clay wherein one put their money to keep." Toy banks became popular in the United States when hard currency was introduced during the 18th century. The manufacture of banks greatly increased with the establishment of the first chartered savings bank in New York City in 1819; thrift was thus institutionalized as a national policy.
The most complex banks were toy mechanical cast-iron models produced from the 1870s through the 1930s by such firms as Stevens and W. J. Shepard. Although these banks appeared in many forms -- like our Punch & Judy bank -- they operated on two simple principles: The weight of the deposited coin caused the action to begin, or a person, after inserting a coin, pressed a lever or switch that activated a spring and set the bank in motion. There were hundreds of types of mechanical banks, some of which are known today only through illustration in early manufacturers' catalogues. A number of popular models were even made illustrating controversial political subjects of the times.
Punch & Judy cast-iron bank