Pre-1900


Play Before Playgrounds, Kinderspel, Jacob Cats, 1618

Going waaay back for Throwback Thursday, to a pre-playground era and the emblem book of Jacob Cats, (1577-1660), a Dutch poet, lawyer, and statesman.  Children are at play in a city square (yay!  play in the city center!) at blindman’s buff and leap frog,  somersaults and bubble-blowing.  No “equipment”, but there are jumpropes, kites,  hoops, whirligigs, stilts, plus dolls and kitchen implements (for the girls) and lots of stick-swords and military band instruments for the boys.  In keeping with the values of the time period, gendered play was seen as preparing the children for their adult roles, and the imagery bears a hidden moral message (all emblem books do)…the stilts represent ‘ego’ because they are higher than others, the bubbles represent the brevity of life. Play, even if it appears without sense, Contains a whole world therein; The world and its complete structure, Is nothing but a children’s game; Thus, – Read the rest…


World's First Playground Swing, say...

  So last year the Daily Mail ran a piece asserting that they had photos of the ‘world’s first playground - Read the rest...

Swinging for Health in the 18th Cen...

Thinking about A.A. Alexander’s ‘Healthful Exercises for Girls‘ that recommended the traveling rings in 1902 reminds me of the health-history - Read the rest...

18th Century Seesaws

Which is not to compare to this fabulous sculpted seesaw from late 18th century Germany, found at the blog 50watts, - Read the rest...

The Garden and the Playground

Images: Children’s Play Provision c. 1809; Children’s Play Provision c. 2009 The concatenation of the garden and the playground is so - Read the rest...

Geology in the Park, c. 1854

I especially love Helen and Hard’s use of geologic strata as an organizing feature because it resurrects the Victorian-era ideal - Read the rest...

World's First Playground Slide, say...

The Daily Mail and BBC have published these fascinating vintage photos (copyright Geoff Robinson) of a slide installed in Wicksteed Park, Kettering, Northamptonshire in - Read the rest...

A Brief History of the Sandbox

What we now know as a ‘sandbox’ was previously called a ‘sand table’ or ‘sand garden’, and it seems to - Read the rest...

An Early Natural Playground Advocat...

  “May I make a plea for a greater use of things as they are? The original valley was attractive - Read the rest...

Rag, Tag and Bobtail at play, 1899

  via the inimitable bibliodyssey, the play adventures of Rag, Tag, and Bobtail, 1899 by Edith Farmiloe. The text is - Read the rest...

Playthings on the Playground or, Wh...

All this Brueghel has solidified some thoughts that have been percolating for some time. Notable by its absence in the - Read the rest...

Hull House Playground Opens in Joll...

  The assertion by Adrian Benepe, NYC parks commissioner and narrator of the NYT slideshow referenced below, that New York - Read the rest...

Muller Orphanage Playgrounds, 1880i...

But will they have as much fun as these kids? The Victorian playgrounds of the Muller orphanages, Bristol, England, where - Read the rest...