British Museum guidebook, £3.50
14th-18th century AD
Found on the River Thames in London
Until the discovery of toys like these, historians did not think of the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries as a period when children's enjoyment was considered important.
These pewter and copper alloy toys, and hundreds like them, were found in the mud of the Thames foreshore in London. Each is a miniature version of an everyday object. They include kitchen objects - cooking utensils, fish on gridirons, and even a frying pan with bubbles of fat. Other household items include candlesticks, birdcages and stools, as well as figurines, watches and guns.
Children might have played with these toys on their own or with a doll's house. But it was not just children who gained pleasure from them - wealthy people often had miniature versions of their own homes made to amuse and impress visitors.
The miniatures were all found by members of the Society of Thames Mudlarks. The Mudlarks helped the Museum of London recover archaeological material during the 1980s when large parts of the City were being excavated as a result of the many building projects going on at that time.
From the collection of the Museum of London
Richard Hobbs, Treasure: Finding our past (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)
H. Forsyth, Toys, trifles and trinkets: Ba (London, UNicorn Press)