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Toys, games and puzzles

Curious Objects

Fun and play are not usually associated with a University Library, but the collections contain paper dolls and pop-up books, a toy theatre and jigsaw puzzles. These games come from all over Europe and far beyond, and perhaps more than any other printed items blur the boundaries between books and objects. Some are much loved childhood toys donated to the Library; others were purchased, some of them very recently. Still more came under the Copyright Act and have been preserved as pristine examples of the kinds of objects that might have been found in a nursery at the turn of the twentieth century.

These objects invited their users to engage with them, manipulate them and sometimes even build them. Today, they give us an insight into how people passed the time, played and learned. They also demonstrate the different ways in which history and contemporary events were presented to children and adults and how, from the eighteenth century onwards, learning facts began to be associated with playing, in a movement that continues to shape educational ideas today.