About this objectThis small piano doll belonged to Ruth Waller (nee Buckland), and was part of a small collection which she acquired during her adult life. Ruth’s granddaughter, Jane, remembers visiting her grandmother as a small girl and playing with these toys.
This doll is shaped to appear as if seated at a piano and has short painted blonde hair, blue eyes and rosy checks. It was made in the 1920s by the German doll company, Gebruder Heubach.
During the 19th century, children’s toys were often homemade and included items like kites, stilts, bows and arrows, model boats, wooden animals, rag dolls and wooden dolls. By the 1860s, specialist toy shops and toy sections in department stores had been established and were frequented by wealthier families. (1) Despite belonging to one of Auckland’s most wealthy families, it is unlikely that Ruth was given expensive brand new toys to play with. As the fourth youngest child of twenty-one children, it is more probable that Ruth received ‘hand-me-down’ toys from her older siblings. This factor, along with the greater availability of toys manufactured from overseas, may have encouraged Ruth to collect dolls and doll accessories during her adult years.
(1) Peter Clayworth, ‘Children’s play – Toys – from homemade to mass market,’ Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL: www.teara.govt.nz/en/childrens-play/page-6
For more information about the Buckland family and Highwic, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.
Date Madec. 1920s
Medium and MaterialsCotton
Subject and Association KeywordsGirlhood
Credit LineCollection of Highwic, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga