M987X.85.1 | Geometric shapes

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Geometric shapes
1900-1930, 20th century
8 x 8 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Geometric shapes (1) , Toy (148)
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Keys to History

Throughout the 19th century there was growing interest in educational toys that taught children while they were playing.

These geometric shapes - the cone, pyramid, prism, cylinder and cube - may have been used in schools for instructional purposes. The names of the shapes are printed in English, so the set would probably have been used in the Protestant school system in Quebec. However, the set came from a private source, which could also indicate that it was purchased for use in the home.

The American toy company Milton Bradley was founded in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1860. It published Paradise of Childhood: A Practical Guide to Kindergartners in 1869, about the time that it began producing educational toys for use in kindergartens. The company sold, among other things, sets of geometric shapes.

  • What

    These geometric shapes are made of wood and covered with lithographed paper.

  • Where

    This set of geometric shapes would have been used as a teaching tool either at home or in school.

  • When

    This set was probably made in the early 20th century.

  • Who

    In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, children from working-class and rural families often had few toys. Those they did own were usually homemade from available materials.