Tonight’s Ringwood Historical Society meeting featured a presentation from Anita Barker, who is submitting a thesis on the childhood toys that were uncovered at the original site of the Coach and Horses Hotel.
Anita’s research is unique to Australia and the world, with very little being researched in regard to historical toys, where she covers toys that were used during the early 1900s when the Coach and Horses was leased by the O’Meara family. Over 200 artefacts were excavated at the Coach and Horses site, which at the time was located along the southern side of Maroondah Highway.
The Coach and Horses, which was a log cabin structure at the time, was burnt down in a fire during 1907 and while the O’Meara family escaped the blaze, the hotel was completely destroyed. The toys that were excavated at the site were dated from the early 1900s through to the time of the fire. While some of the toys, such as tin soldiers would have melted under the heat of the fire, tea sets, marbles, writing slates and bisque dolls were able to be recovered.
In the early 1900s, toys were sold through the local post office as well as mail catalogue and the O’Meara family appeared keen to provide their children with some of the latest toys that were available at the time. Consumerism also appeared to be rife, with shops directly marketing to children through the use of coupons, brochures and toy makers that provided eye catching decorative designs. The intricate nature of the toys was remarkable, given that they would have been hand made and spent many months being shipped over from Europe.
The O’Meara family remained in Ringwood until the 1907 fire and later appeared to have relocated to the South Melbourne area.
Anita’s presentation is another example of the diverse topics that are discussed at the Ringwood Historical Society. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 8pm at Federation Estate.
For further details please visit www.rhs.org.au.