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16 Most Popular Victorian Toys

Genuine Victorian toys are now well over 100 years old, and very popular with collectors.

Victorian Toys - Hoops. Date: 1883
Victorian Toys - Hoops. Date: 1883 © Archivist - stock.adobe.com

You can still find them in auctions, vintage fairs and antique shops if you keep an eye out.

There are also lots to see in museums such as the Edinburgh Museum of Childhood, Pollocks Toy Museum in London, or Young V&A (formerly the V&A Museum of Childhood) in London.

In the Victorian Era (1837 - 1901), there was a wider range of toys available to more children than ever before.

Even so, most of the Victorian toys in this article would have belonged to middle-class or upper-class Victorian children.

Girls playing with a Doll © LiliGraphie via Deposit Photos

Poor and working-class children would have been too busy working, or helping around the home and would have had limited time for play.

Toys were generally handmade from metal or wood and were far more expensive than the mass-produced plastic toys of the 21st century, so poor Victorian families wouldn't have been able to afford toys, which would have been considered expensive luxuries.

We hope you enjoy this collection of some of the most popular toys in Victorian times:

Hobby Horse

The hobby horse consists of a toy horse head mounted on a long stick, usually with a shorter stick at 90 degrees.

Victorian Toy Catalogue 1897 © LiliGraphie via Deposit Photos

The rider holds the horse's head up in front of them facing forwards, and "rides" the hobby horse by running along with one leg on either side of the long stick.

Luxury versions have a set of small wheels that will run along the ground.

Also known as a stick horse, the hobby horse has been around since at least the 1500s, but was certainly popular in Victorian times.

Rocking Horse

Staying with the equestrian theme, the ultimate toy in an upper-class Victorian nursery would be the rocking horse.

Rocking Horse in Pollock's Toy Museum © Pettifoggist via Flickr

Traditionally a carved wooden horse on bow rockers, the rocking horse originates in the 17th century but became popular among the wealthy as a child's toy in Victorian times.

In the late 19th century an American inventor (sources don't agree on his name) designed the glider mechanism which is much safer and stops the rocking horse moving around the nursery when rocked.


Dolls are as old as civilisation itself, and were usually made from wood or fabric.

Victorian Doll © Dario Lo Presti via Deposit Photos

Bisque porcelain dolls with their delicate and lifelike faces became popular (with the wealthiest families) during Victorian times.

The dolls' porcelain faces were made in Germany from the 1860s, hand painted and the dolls often had real human hair for extra realism.

Porcelain doll
Porcelain doll © xmen - stock.adobe.com

These expensive toys were dressed in elaborate and fashionable clothes made from the finest fabrics.

Doll's House

Doll's houses are hundreds of years old, but they were originally for adults planning interiors, or teaching girls how to run a household.

Antique Dolls House
Antique Dolls House © Margo Harrison - stock.adobe.com

As doll's houses were not mass-produced until much later, it was only towards the end of the Victorian era that even the wealthiest children would have had a doll's house as a toy.

Antique Dolls House
Antique Dolls House © David Gallun - stock.adobe.com

You'll find a fascinating collection of Victorian doll's houses at Young V&A - (formerly The V&A Museum of Childhood).

Toy Soldiers

Like many toys, model soldiers have been around for centuries, but they were mainly used by adults for military planning as they were too expensive to be used as toys.

Miniature tin soldiers
Miniature tin soldiers © Jethra Tull - stock.adobe.com

It wasn't until 1893 that British toy company William Britain started producing hollow-cast toy soldiers which could be sold more cheaply, and their popularity as toys took off.

Spinning Top

The spinning top was a popular toy in Victorian times. Usually made of wood, the simplest spinning tops were set in motion with a flick of the fingers.

Old fashioned wooden toys
Old fashioned wooden toys © David Pimborough - stock.adobe.com

For faster and longer spins you would wind a string around the top and pull it to set the top spinning.

Skipping Rope (Jump Rope)

Skipping ropes, also known as jump ropes, have been used as toys since the 16th century, but were certainly popular with Victorian children.

The ropes were purpose-made with wooden handles (for wealthier children) or just discarded lengths of old rope (for poor kids).

Either way, there was singles and doubles skipping and a variety of skipping games and rhymes, just as there are today.

Wind-up Toys

Although clockwork wind-up toys date back to the 15th century, these were costly novelties for wealthy adults - not for children to play with.

Wind-up Monkey Toy
Wind-up Monkey Toy © Karen Perhus - stock.adobe.com

It was only in Victorian times - in the 1880s - that clockwork tin toys were mass-produced at a price that made them accessible to the children of wealthy households.

Clockwork animals, dolls and carousels were among the most popular Victorian wind-up toys.

Puppet Theatre

In the days before films and TV, theatre was a popular form of entertainment.

Puppet show
Puppet show © Natalya Lys - stock.adobe.com

A puppet theatre allowed children's imaginations to run wild, creating performances of their favourite stories and fairy tales.

Glass Marbles

Glass marbles first appeared in the early Victorian period - around the middle of the 19th century.

Boat, tops, marbles and dominoes
Boat, tops, marbles and dominoes © soupstock - stock.adobe.com

It is thought that they were first made by glass makers using leftover glass to make toys for their children.

Glass marbles were not mass-produced by machine until 1915 - well after the end of the Victorian era - so they would have been relatively expensive and unusual toys for Victorian children.

Toy Train

The toy train set is very much a Victorian invention as the first mass-produced toy trains were made by Märklin in Germany in 1891.

Victorian Toy Catalogue 1897 © LiliGraphie via Deposit Photos

Märklin specialised in doll's house accessories which were becoming popular with girls, and they were wanting to develop a product that would appeal to boys.

Early toy trains were made from tin which was stamped out and lithographed.

Electric toy trains first appeared 6 years later in 1897.

Tea Set

The miniature toy tea set became a popular toy for upper and middle-class girls during Victorian times, as tea sets began to be mass-produced from the middle of the 19th century.

Girl with Doll and Teaset © Klanneke via Deposit Photos

Playing with a tea set prepared girls for their role in Victorian society.

Boys were encouraged to play rougher more masculine games outdoors.


Hoops have been around since at least 500 BC and have enjoyed periods of popularity such as the introduction of "hooping" in Britain in the 1300s, and the "hula hoop" craze in the 1950s.

They were popular in Victorian times too - and no picture of a Victorian street scene is complete without a child bowling a wooden hoop along the road with a stick.


The kaleidoscope consists of a tube containing mirrors that reflect coloured glass fragments into beautiful patterns.

The kaleidoscope was invented by Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster in 1816, and it became a popular novelty item for the whole family after American Charles Busch promoted it in the 1870s.

Musical Toys

Highly prized by Victorians, a music box would have been entertaining for children and adults alike.

Toy bird in a gold musical cage
Toy bird in a gold musical cage © MyTopShelf - stock.adobe.com

Music boxes, often made of rosewood, would contain figures that would dance and spin as the music played.

Turning a crank or winding the clockwork mechanism on the side of the box was all it took to create sweet music.

Teddy Bear

Finally, here's one toy that you might think is Victorian, but isn't:

Although teddy bears seem like Victorian toys, they actually originate from the year after Queen Victoria died - so they are in fact Edwardian:

The name and popularity of the teddy bear date from November 1902 when US President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub on a hunting trip.

Of course, some children had stuffed toy animals during the Victorian period, including bears, but the popularity of actual teddy bears took off in Edwardian times.


We hope you've enjoyed this selection of some of the most popular toys from the Victorian era.

Despite competition from phones, tablets and consoles, most of them are still available to buy today.

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