|Tea Service, circa 1840
Maker: Wood & Brownfield
With relief portrait of the manufacturer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Cat. no. D-9951
Slide no. 18015
TOYWARES AND CHILDREN'S PRESENTS"Toys," said a Victorian commentator, "shed sunlight on the pathway of childhood." Potters had a share in the business that nineteenth-century toys and children's presents generated.
Little girls played with earthenware and porcelain tablewares, learning at the same time how to set a table properly. Sometimes their toyware was in the same pattern as their mother's table service.
Toy sets in earthenware came mainly from Great Britain. In Canada the St. Johns Stone Chinaware Co. also produced toyware. Both British and French potters supplied toys in porcelain. As well as tablewares there were toy toilet sets. Some of the most noted potters of the century — Wedgwood, for instance, and Copeland — included toyware in their Canadian trade.
Probably much less popular with children but considered suitable presents for them by adults, especially in the Victorian period, were small plates. These plates were often surrounded by letters of the alphabet and printed with some improving motto or message. Boys as well as girls were the recipients of these children's plates.
For children, too, there were presents of mugs. The mugs often had the name of the child painted or printed on them. On porcelain ones the name might be painted in gold. A name, however, did not necessarily denote a special order. An 1840s account of a visit to a British pottery supplying the Canadian market described how potters decorated these mugs in advance, concentrating on names, such as biblical names, that were popular enough to ensure sales.