Toys in the Age of Wonder

Science Fiction, Society and the Symbolism of Play


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About the Book

By the middle 1800s, toys were appearing in forms that drew upon—and that inspired—advances in areas such as optics, biology, geography, transportation, and automation. In these decades, too, a new type of wonder tale was being brought to maturity by a Poe-inspired Jules Verne. The modern wonder tale’s highly-charged vision expressed the hopes and the fears, and the delights and the traumas, engendered by “new worlds idealism”—that Western pursuit of both mechanical and geographical conquest. Exploring realms belonging to childhood, literature, science, and history, this innovative study weaves together the histories of wonder tales and children’s toys, focusing specifically on their modern aspects and how they reflect and express the social attitudes of that time period beginning around 1859 and ending around 1957.

About the Author(s)

Mark Rich has written multiple books on toys and toy history, along with numerous articles on science fiction literature. He lives in Cashton, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Mark Rich
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 344
Bibliographic Info: 95 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4392-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3978-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

One—Excelsior! 3

Two—Marking the Modern Century 19

Three—The ­Sleep-Journey and the Navigator 29

Four—Tradition and Change in Symbolic Toys 46

Five—Deep Time and the Thinning Veil 64

Six—Early Automata in America 84

Seven—The Moon and the ­Anti-Hero Clock 94

Eight—The Maelstrom and New Worlds Fatalism 112

Nine—Fogg’s Journey 125

Ten—Later Automata and Shrunken Globes 137

Eleven—The Magic City 152

Twelve—The Antigravity Clock and the Moon 168

Thirteen—The Middle Years and the Ripping Veil 179

Fourteen—Mockeries of Mass Production 197

Fifteen—The Tattered Veil 222

Sixteen—Lines of Motion and the Horizontal Rocket 235

Seventeen—Thirteen O’Clock 261

Chapter Notes 283

Bibliography 309

Index 317