The Historical Toymaker

"Dedicated to the Preservation, Nurture, and Development of
Traditional American-made folk toys"

    In early America, childhood was a somewhat serious time of life, a preparation for the adult world, and most toys, books and games were designed to acquaint children with household tasks or teach them moral lessons. Although a few wealthy families purchased expensive, imported European toys, most American children depended on family members to craft dolls, wooden toys, and games.  Dolls were made from cornhusks, rags and other household items.  Leftover wood and string were used to make spinning tops.


                     Children did many household chores in those days, such as carrying wood, husking corn, gathering berries, leading oxen, carding wool, gathering eggs, and churning butter.  When
children were not doing chores, their parents sent them to school.



    When children had time to play, they enjoyed the same games that their parents and grandparents had played when they were young.  These games helped children learn skills that they would need later in life.  Games taught children how to aim and throw, how to solve problems, how to do things with their hands and how to follow directions and rules.  The also learned to be kind, wait their turn, and to use their imagination.
Carding wool
Pioneer Child's Life
Pioneer family playing a game
Early American Education
Girl making Cornhusk Doll
Cornhusk Doll
Colonial Schoolchildren
Spool Tractor
Kicking Pig
Wooden Spinning Top
Buzz Saw
 Playing Colonial Jacks
Colonial Family
Colonial children playing marbles
Boy with Hoop n Roll Game
    Welcome to the fascinating world of traditional American-made folk toys!!!
Traditional folk toys have been a part of our American heritage and history for hundreds of years.  Our mission is to provide information and resources for educators, museum educators, folk toy entusiasts, amateur historians and folklorists. On this site, you will learn the history of the toys, how to make many of them and profile both professional and amateur makers. 
Traditional American-made Folk Toys
    Just what is a folk toy?  The definition of 'folk toy' would be similar to phrases such as 'folk song' or 'folk tale'.  The origins of any given toy is lost to pre-history or history, but was initially made by someone for his own use or for the use of children in the house hold.  The toy, itself, may have been changed slightly from being passed down from one generation to another.  Over the generations, the toy was in wide use at certain times.  These toys could have been played with by Native Americans, New World colonists, and Victorian-era or pioneer children, or simply made on the homestead.
    Authentic American-made folk toys gives us a glimpse into the days when our ancesters were building a great country by hand, so long ago.
    We invite you to check back as we begin to post in-depth articles about
           American-made folk toys.

historical folk toys
Traditional folk toys
American Folk Toy
Making Traditional American-made Folk Toys

Making and playing with toys from the past is an exciting way to study our country's history first hand.  Traditional folk toys made by American pioneers for their children can be the central focus of endless projects.  Today's children can take a step back into the lives of children of the past.  Teachers and students can experiment with historical toy-making, using such everyday objects as spools,
cardboard, string, cord or ribbon. 

                                            The opportunity to make Colonial, Victorian, Pioneer                                                and common folk toys will enable children to sample                            a piece of the lives of children of the past.
                        Children like to make toys.

Teachers find toy-making to be an informal time,
allowing conversation about the toys, their history,
        and ways of using them.

American Folk Toymaker

Toy-Maker Profiles


    In this part of the web-site, we want to profile as many of the pioneers in the field of American
folk toy-making as possible.  This year we are featuring George Rice from Nashville, Indiana.  
    George is a true pioneer in the research and development of truly authentic American folk toys.
He has been researching and developing American folk toys for over 26 years, beginning in 1973.
George's current folk toy business, Homestead Folk Toys, is located in Nashville, Indiana in historic Brown County and now serves an international base of folk toy lovers.  Homestead Folk Toys
is a crafter and distributor of historical folk toys, classic games, homestead crafts and folk music.
Homestead Folk Toys began as a family-owned business and still conducts business in that same friendly spirit today.  Homestead Folk Toys services museum shops, craft guilds, Waldorf and Montessori schools, homeschool groups, and privately-owned shops.

                                              George has researched and developed such classic folk toys and games
                            as the Climbing Bear, Native American Corncob Darts Game,  the
                             Handkerchief Doll, Five Stones, Marble-shooter and many more.

                                      George has been researching and developing American-made folk toys for
                             over 26 years, beginning in 1973.  When George decided to found
                               Homestead Folk Toys, he used the product research, development,
                             and design techniques that he had perfected with his previous folk
                               toy business.  Indeed, he developed a methodology of research that
has been copied by many.

You can visit George Rice and Homestead Folk Toys at

            We invite you to check back often as we continue to
             add to this site.
George Rice
George Rice
Homestead Folk Toys Logo
Colonial Workshop
Typical Log Cabin in Nashville, Indiana
Spoon Doll
Buzz Saw
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Images and designs © 2009 Historical Toymaker and their respective owners.  All rights reserved.
  History of American-made Folk Toys & Games

  Traditional American-made Folk Toys & Games always carry a
   diverse and fascinating history with them.  Indeed, to
  discover the history of these treasures is to discover
the history of America.  We invite you back often as
  we include more and more of these historical 'nuggets.'
Click HERE to journey back in time.
Civil War 150 years
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to  see Civil
civil war toys