Hot Wheels: A 2011 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Hot Wheels: A 2011 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

I was eight years old in 1968 and, like many of my friends, I played with toy cars. That year, Mattel introduced toy autos called Hot Wheels. Unlike the toy cars before them, Hot Wheels rolled really fast either downhill or with a touch of a finger. Accessories such as track sets and collector cases…

Play through the Centuries

Play through the Centuries

Recently, The Strong acquired a rare and important early printed book illustration. The image came to our attention when Gordon Burghardt used it to illustrate his article, “The Comparative Reach of Play and Brain: Perspective, Evidence, and Implications,” in the Winter 2010 issue of The Strong’s American Journal of Play. As professor of both psychology…

Single Ladies: The History of Old Maid

Single Ladies: The History of Old Maid

Did you play card games as a child? If so, you probably played a version of Old Maid. The term “old maid” is English and means an unmarried childless woman or spinster. Used as early as 1761 for the title of a play by Irishman Arthur Murphy, it also means an unpopped kernel in a…

With a Song in my Heart: A Brief History of American Sheet Music; or, How to Search The Strong’s Database

With a Song in my Heart: A Brief History of American Sheet Music; or, How to Search The Strong’s Database

As I write this, Katy Perry’s “E.T.” featuring Kanye West ranks as the number one pop song. Country’s top pick is “Heart Like Mine” by Miranda Lambert, while R&B’s current number one is “Sure Thing” by Miguel. Although the star performers get all the attention, hit songs could never happen without the session musicians and…

The 2010 TAGIE Award Winners

The 2010 TAGIE Award Winners

Imagine the Oscars for toy and game inventors—with a glamorous gourmet meal. That provides a good picture of the Chicago Toy and Game Group’s annual Toy and Game Inventor Expo (TAGIE) awards presentation dinner in November. The Strong is a co-sponsor, along with many other significant contributors, of the event which coincides with the Chicago…

Arto Monaco Toys Donated to The Strong

Arto Monaco Toys Donated to The Strong

The year 2010 saw numerous important donations to the collections of the National Museum of Play at The Strong. I had the pleasure of examining and transporting one special collection—toys and toy prototypes made by toy and theme park designer Arto Monaco. Monaco (1913–2003) is most famous for his theme park designs, especially Santa’s Workshop…

The Game of Life: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

The Game of Life: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

In 1960, to celebrate the firm’s 100th anniversary, Milton Bradley Company hired designer Reuben Klamer to create a new game. Looking for inspiration, Klamer turned to the company archives where he encountered one of Milton Bradley’s first games, The Checkered Game of Life. It had been the company’s first best-selling success back in 1860 when…

Playing Cards: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Playing Cards: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Playing cards are truly ancient game-playing devices. Their earliest origins are traced to ninth-century China, where people marked leaves with symbols and spots for game play. Most scholars believe that similar handmade playthings also appeared in Egypt and India. In Europe, the first handmade cards showed up during the 1300s, but printed decks arrived in…

The Story behind Strong’s Folk Art Monopoly Game

The Story behind Strong’s Folk Art Monopoly Game

As a curator, I’m enthusiastic about every item I acquire for the museum’s collections, but certain acquisitions are definitely more newsworthy than others. I recently had the chance to appear on regional cable TV news, talking about the museum’s latest Monopoly set. The story involves Strong’s acquisition of this historic version of Monopoly—older even than…

Which Came First, the Goose or the Egg?

Which Came First, the Goose or the Egg?

Strong recently acquired a very rare and important board game—“The Jolly Game of Goose.” The game is printed on paper with old, yellowed tape on its folds. It is a prime candidate for intensive conservation (restoration) treatment. But why is it so important to the museum? The game of goose is an ancient children’s game,…