Victorian Era Toys And Holiday Collectibles On Display At Moran House - 27 East

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Victorian Era Toys And Holiday Collectibles On Display At Moran House

Number of images 25 Photos
Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. JACK CRIMMINS

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House.

Christmas at the Thomas Moran House. KYRIL BROMLEY

The Dutch custom of giving silver miniatures became popular in Victorian times.

The Dutch custom of giving silver miniatures became popular in Victorian times. JACK CRIMMINS

Autor

Collector's Eye

  • Publication: Residence
  • Published on: Dec 19, 2019
  • Columnist: Jack Crimmins

There are few settings that remind us more of the holidays than home — whether one’s own house or an imagined house — and no type of house typifies the nostalgic feeling of the holidays more than a Victorian house, with its alcoves, stairwells, fireplaces and hearths.

It was this backdrop that awaited me when I entered the restored Thomas Moran House on Main Street in East Hampton. Built in 1884 for the Moran family by Thomas, who was a well-known painter of the period, the house features every architectural element that defines Victorian, from gables to a turret.

Overseen by the East Hampton Historical Society, the Moran House is open to the public every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the holiday season this year. And it is well worth the trip, particularly for children, who will be enthralled by the antique toys, games and dolls.

Additionally, there are four evergreen trees decorated with antique ornaments, including a floor-to-ceiling tree in the living room, approximately 18 feet tall.

In the rear of the first floor, the Historical Society has mounted a small show of illustrations by Jessie Wilcox Smith, an artist in the late 19th century who was one of the first female illustrators for American magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal. The works on display were found in the old Osbourne House right here in East Hampton. They were found in scrapbooks that some of the children compiled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Scrapbooks were very popular at that time and were made by both girls and boys, although the subject matter varied by gender. With photographs available, magazines ready to be cut up, trade cards given away freely at general stores, and fancy embossed dance cards, most anything that could be adhered to a paper page found its way into countless scrapbooks.

Walking around the beautifully decorated Moran House, I came upon a collection of silver miniatures. Richard Barons, chief curator of the Historical Society, explained to me that many gift-giving ideas of the Victorian era were, in fact, Dutch customs. As it happened, Mrs. Lion Gardiner — the wife of the founder of Long Island’s first settlement — was of Dutch ancestry, and she introduced the custom in East Hampton. Most of the miniatures are of Dutch or French manufacture and are extremely rare.

With the importance of family and children taking center stage in the festivities, all manner of gifts and keepsakes were sold to keep up with demand. The first soft toy jointed bear was designed by Richard Steiff in 1903. It became the iconic teddy bear in 1906. At the time, most were handmade, as were Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. There are many dolls on view under the trees at the Moran House.

Lionel Trains came on the market in 1900 and, thanks to the new invention of electricity, were an instant collectible, handed down from one generation to the next. Also popular were science-oriented gifts like chemistry sets and microscopes priced for middle-class consumption.

Of course, all kids wanted a bicycle, sled, red wagon or scooter, and you can see examples of these at the Moran House, too. But the holidays wouldn’t be complete without jigsaw puzzles, books, backgammon boards, chess sets and card games, as well as complete dollhouses, children’s chairs, prams for dolls, toy chests, etc.

For anyone familiar with “Antiques Roadshow,” some of the things I’ve mentioned will ring a bell, like Steiff bears and French silver miniatures, items that are now highly collectible and sought after. Lionel Trains, too, are worth a lot now and sought after by a small but motivated group of collectors.

But the illustrations by Jessie Wilcox Smith, found in an old scrapbook, were the most striking in terms of a collectible and the way they emerged from a dusty attic trunk to be the focal point of a show over 100 years later. Goes to prove “you just never know” what might become a collectible in time, and some things become more meaningful with age.

I highly recommend a visit to Saturdays at the Holiday Moran House for the full Victorian Christmas experience.

Happy holidays to all!

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