TOYS FROM THE SCRAP-HEAP
An interesting toy soldier scrap to add to my scrapbook collection, dated roughly to 1919 / 1920 from the news items on the back.
Toys from the Scrap-heap
A discharged soldier of Deptford turns his ingenious hand to making toys from margarine boxes and various odds and ends , such as knitting needles.
It is an attractive castle that I’m sure any boy would be delighted to receive as a present. Lots of levels, bristling with field guns with a good parade space in front.
It has an unusual bridge style drawbridge, a full parade of toy soldiers and a tiny glimpse of (handmade?) toy battleships.
Rough photos of this clipping don’t show much detail, I shall try to scan it in more pixelated detail when next possible.
I wonder if the double or modern meaning of being on the employment scrap heap as an injured veteran facing the economic troubles and postwar crash of the 1920s and 1930s had quite happened yet. The photograph caption instead seems to applaud this discharged serviceman’s quiet determination to make something from nothing, of skill and industry well applied, as something to be proud of.
The unnamed Deptford soldier appears to be wearing on his lapel a regimental metal badge or possibly the silver badge issued to discharged or invalided soldiers.
Hopefully he found some therapy and income from his talents, as well as cheering many young children.
In the 1920s it is often said that toy soldier companies developed more ‘pacifist’, civilian or non-military ranges such as the Home Farm, railway figures, gardens and others. This change and these ranges are excellently covered in Norman Joplin’s brilliantly comprehensive The Great Book Of Hollow-Cast Figures (New Cavendish, 1993/99).
Toy Workshops for disabled and discharged war veterans
The same Joplin book features amongst the many manufacturers, an intriguing advert and some toy soldiers from Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener’s Workshop for injured soldiers, painting toy soldier castings from various manufacturers c. 1916
Well worth tracking down a copy of this well illustrated Joplin book.
Judging by the Dundee example, some of these workshops survived until very recently (2010) and may still exist? http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb254-ms319
After the First World War there must have been thousands of such injured veterans, competing for work during the difficult economic times of the 1920s and 1930s. Dolls houses, furniture and board games like Bombardo were made postwar alongside the wartime painting of toy soldiers.
The following websites cover more about the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshop:
More about Discharged and Demobilised Soldiers
A close up of the man’s lapel badge suggests that he may be a medically discharged soldier, rather than demobilised.
Posted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, December 2016.