Engineers or artists? Toys, class and technology in Wilhelmine Germany.
This article argues that toys became the material culture for a public debate over how technology related to middle-class values. They allowed millions of ordinary consumers to participate in an argument of major significance to most adult citizens which had previously been limited to members of the intellectual, political, military and economic elite. Modris Eksteins referred to Wilhelmine Germany as "the modernist nation par excellence," whose citizens believed one could make a utopia. (3) Contrary to ideas of cultural despair (4) suggesting Germans had no practical solutions to the many problems facing the Kaiserreich, a survey of toy consumption shows the intense public engagement of Germans with middling incomes and above. Late nineteenth-century consumer culture was much more vigorous and diverse than is generally admitted, and we cannot understand identity politics in the Wilhelmine era without exploring the ways in which selling, buying and consuming allowed individuals to fashion themselves in a rapidly changing environment. (5)
Over the course of the nineteenth century cultural changes in Germany regarding the importance of childhood to modern society prompted educational reformers from numerous backgrounds to issue a call for play to move indoors where it could be monitored and used to teach unifying, middle-class values to all boys and girls. The two selections above represent opposite poles of the debate. Factory producers marketed working toy trains, erector sets, and steam engines at boys in a more or less democratic effort to create future engineers in the belief that the ideal male citizen mastered mechanical technology in the controlled space of the bourgeois home. Girls received working gas ovens and myriad kitchen appliances to prepare themselves as prospective domestic managers. On the other hand, critics of factory-made toys offered miniatures crafted via older technologies such as hand saws, lathes and augers. The supporters of this alternative vision of technology and modern society supplied bourgeois youngsters of both sexes with generic wooden trains and stylized dolls which identified the ideal middle-class citizen as a humanistic intellectual.
This provides new insights that help us better understand how toys helped consumers debate the meaning of technology for bourgeois life. In his recent book on toys in Imperial Germany, David Hamlin argued middle-class reformers did not care about the impact of technology on society. Rather, they worried that "topical" or fad miniatures, which bore little relation to real life or which incused on vacuous themes, damaged children's development. (6) A close analysis shows that this framework does not accurately depict how producers understood new toys, or how reformers criticized them. New technological miniatures appeared in trade journals in a section entitled Neuheiten. This could be translated as "fads", but a more accurate commercial rendering is innovations. Producers latched themselves directly to the notion that the engineer bearing the latest problem-solving technology represented the ideal middle-class citizen and produced toys accordingly. In any event, the miniaturized technologies examined here, including railroads and kitchen equipment, can hardly be dismissed as topical; they formed central components of modern life. Bourgeois reformers who resisted this impulse did not worry solely about fads; they feared the increasing specificity and complexity of technology eroded individuals' critical faculties and weakened the nation. The existing scholarship on the reform movement, such as Jennifer Jenkins hook on Alfred Lichtwark's museum in Hamburg, confirms this analysis. (7) In order to combat factory owners over whether or not the engineer constituted the ideal middle-class citizen, artists and pedagogues met them head-on in the market.
In the end however, consumers let their money do the talking. Miniatures are a fascinating medium to explore this development because along with things like clothing, furniture and porcelain they were one of the first mass-consumed, standardized commodities. By 1900, companies located in the Empire controlled 60% of the world market. This astonishing figure paled against their domination (95%) of domestic consumption. In 1890, Germany exported 27.8 Million Marks of toys and 40 million Marks five years later. By 1901 this figure reached 53 million Marks, in 1906 70.5 million Marks, and in 1911 90.1 million Marks. On the eve of World War I, the Reich accounted for 125 million out of 230 million Marks of world toy production. This represented about 1% of GDP, roughly equal to the army budget. Between 80,000-100,000 men, women and children depended directly on the industry for their livelihoods. By 1910, the industry shipped out forty million dolls a year. The metal-working firms could produce up to 100,000 tin soldiers a day (although they only reached this figure around Christmas). (8) This represented consumption on a massive scale. Reporters in Berlin wrote lyrically about a city moving in unison during the Christmas shopping season. These citizen-consumers "looked joyfully at the reflected light [of the department stores], and pressed their faces against the picture windows" to see the toys and other goods on display. Shoppers went from "Store to store, from window to window and thought: Christmas gifts! Christmas gifts!" (9) Toy makers themselves estimated that about 35-40% of the population (their understanding of the middle class) could buy factory-made products, but this does not mean that those who could not afford them remained unaware of their cultural significance. Margarete Flecken painstakingly unearthed dozens of memoirs by working-class men and women from the end of the 19th century. One wrote that although he never saw a miniature in his home "the children of rich people got to play with wonderful toys, I knew that." He later understood that a parent was supposed to be present at all times to regulate play, but this represented knowledge achieved from afar. (10) It appears that many Germans who could not participate in the culture of consumption recognized that part of being a modern citizen meant have a consumer mentality. In the late nineteenth century toys helped Germans define themselves as good middle-class citizens in much the same way that cars do for people in the United States. Children who lacked toys in Germany, much like adults in the US without cars, were perceived as inferior by much of the population.
Technology and Class in the Late 19th Century
Today we just assume mechanical and digital technology's place in our society. It is easy to forget that prior to 1850 it was by no means clear to Europeans that modern technical developments made life better. This article expands our understanding of a trans-Atlantic historiography on how people assimilated technology as a constitutive component of middle-class identity in the West around 1900. In a recent survey, Thomas Hughes argued that up until about 1850 most Americans looked at technology as something that would lead to a new Eden by enabling humans to understand God's creation. This conception drew from Evangelical understandings of a higher purpose for humanity and assumed that the "mechanical arts" enabled skilled workers to create things in harmony with nature. This vision slowly changed during the second round of industrialization as mechanical technology such as steam engines, machine tools and the production of electricity solved certain problems but created new ones. Middle-class reformers believed mechanical technology represented power and control and the promise of a rational society based on progress. Rather than exist in harmony with nature, they wanted to dominate it. A similar dichotomy existed in Germany, only the justification for the alternative to mechanical technology was provided by art and Bildung (personal cultivation leading to balance and mastery) as opposed to Protestant theology. (11) There, engineers maintained that technology promised to reinforce German national power and solve the Reich's seemingly intractable geo-political conundrums more effectively than anything the traditional noble elite could offer. A close look at toys shows that consumption enabled ordinary people to participate in this redefinition of middle-class identity by purchasing toys. (12)
Although the struggle was intense, on both sides of the Atlantic those who believed the ideal citizen to be a male member of the middle-class seeking mechanical solutions to life's problems enjoyed more success. In Germany Walter Rathenau argued the state had to mobilize technology as the only way to save Kultur. (13) Similarly, in the US Thorstein Veblen demanded that the machine age be controlled by the engineers. In both countries there was a pragmatist center associated with men such as Max Weber, Werner Sombart and John Dewey who sought to fuse technology and culture into a symbiotic relationship but who nonetheless tended towards the mechanical and progressive side. (14) German engineers struggled mightily to form professional organizations and slowly coded modern technology as the preserve of the educated, middle-class male. (15) Hans Joachim Braun demonstrated that intellectuals such as Franz Reuleaux and Ulrich Wendt (whom many toy producers read) divided humanity into two types of people; the advanced whose lives revolved around technology and the natural who supposedly existed in a primeval framework of knowledge. (16) They coded technology masculine, rational and progressive, values associated with the middle-classes. They imagined traditional societies as feminine, irrational and pre-modern, not so unlike the dangerous working-classes and Pobel that haunted the nightmares of reformers in Germany. (17)
Although not as successful, some intellectuals and consumers argued for an alternative understanding of the connection between technology and the middle class. This discourse assumed that technical advances would he used in concert with nature to create an edenic society a la Hughe's pre-1850 Americans. They replaced mastery and control with nurturing and harmony. Jennifer Jenkins has shown that major intellectuals such as Alfted Lichtwark deplored Germany as a soulless, technological wasteland in no way culturally comparable to England or France. He helped found the Kunsthalle in Hamburg to show how aesthetic education was vital to the economic well-being of the nation. A supporter of the arts and craft movement and a critic of factory toys, he warned that mechanical technology might destroy Germany's soul if it was not subordinated to humanistic cultute. (18) Remarkably, women entrepreneurs joined male intellectuals within Germany and exploited the debate about technology in an effort to redefine what it meant to he a member of the middle class. (19) The fight over whether the ideal member of the middle-class would be a man who showed dominance via his control over technology or an individual (whose gender did not matter) using simpler machines in harmony with nature carried major implications for the shape of German society. Could the ideal member of the middle-class he a woman? Would the pacesetters come from the ranks of business or arts and academia? The search for answers played out again and again on the field of consumption.
In the following pages I will lay out the post-1850 mechanical solution to middle-class life with its emphasis on machines, progress, order and rationality. Toy producers disseminated a message which elevated the engineer as the ideal male citizen and assumed women would function as domestic managers. 1 will then turn to the alternative vision of technology stressed by the humanists where the machines remained subordinate to aesthetic and cultural sensibilities and gender mattered less. A perusal of representative miniatures and advertisements shows the power of the first, discourse and an examination of surviving autobiographical material reveals that many boys and girls did listen to the message. Although the alternative vision of technology was commercially marginal, certain female artists eventually forced the entire industry to shift the way it made toys in order to meet the needs of the millions of consumers who looked askance at the dominance of modern technology. Collectively, this shows that consumption allowed ordinary people to participate in a debate of political significance, including women who could not vote. Finally, we will examine the remarkable ability of consumer culture to tame subversive discourses and assimilate them back into the mainstream.
In this complicated debate, businessmen and engineers within the toy industry almost uniformly aligned themselves with those who stressed the positive transformative power of mechanical technology for the middle-class and the nation. For example, in 1906 historian Ulrich Wendt published Technology as a Cultural Force claiming progress in this sphere was a prerequisite for a healthy nation. The author argued technology served a threefold purpose. It "intellectualized" (vergeistigt) the human work potential, contributed to the development of political freedom by lessening physical labor, and enabled adults to "develop spiritual aspects of life and ennoble culture." (20) Wendt's main argument implied technology could lead to a middle-class Utopia by raising the intellectual potential of working-class Germans. The notion that big technology offered a quick fix to societal problems appealed to others such as art historian Paul Hildebrandt. He articulated bis argument in a massive cultural history of German miniatures. "It would be most advantageous for the progress and development of our society ... if little models of out great discoveries ... would create excitement about the values, advancements, and breadth of our technological achievements." Trains, ships and other mechanical miniatures represented, "the pride of the toy industry, they mirror our massive cultural advances, they are modern in the sharpest sense of the word because they show something completely new that the previous thousands of years could not accomplish." Hildebrandt made the connection between technology and culture as constitutive of a nurturing, unifying modernity much like Wendt. To be modern meant to be educated, prosperous and rational; one sought answers to age old problems in new technology. Hilde-brandt's book enjoyed a wide readership. Thomas Mann wrote a positive review and even spoke at the book signing, suggesting that the consumer forum of toy culture facilitated middle-class Germans' engagement with the public sphere. (21) Toy producers gleefully latched onto this model of modern life to publicly suggest cultivated children had to have mechanical toys early and often. In 1909, the newly founded trade journal Rundschau uber Spielwaren wrote about Hilde-brandt's and Wendt's theories of technology and play saying "the child learns [about culture] by playing; these true words must be grasped across the industry and provide the guiding principle of all production." The magazine's editors doubtlessly believed this message, but also recognized they could make a lot of money from it. The journal advised toy sellers that many people had an infatuation with modern technology. It asked them to tell consumers that "these [toy] ships, railroads, cars, dolls' kitchens and washboards are little works of art, reproduced like the real thing in the most exact detail." If real machines promised increasing control over nature, an improving lifestyle and a stronger nation, exact miniaturization made it possible to extend this message to children (and parents), teaching them the value of being citizens in a modern society. (22) Entrepreneurs had learned "how to stay in front of cultural developments, and herein lay the success of the industry ... cars and Zeppelins play the same role in the life of children as they do in adult life. We have learned to be true to life [because] realistic toys are the most sought after." (23) Toy makers understood why technology appealed to adults. Railroads and telegraphs made life better or at least opened up new possibilities. These same adults wanted an enhanced life for their children as well, so they bought toys that represented the ideals of the mechanical nation. They successfully embedded this simple commercial transaction within a larger discourse about the meaning of modem, middle-class life. If Germany was ever to achieve its true potential it had to raise male citizens who could successfully manipulate technology and solve problems. They did not necessarily ignore girls, but they certainly imagined them in a subordinate position running the household via technology created by men.
By no means did the supporters of contemporary technology have the consumer landscape all to themselves, however. Skeptics publicly disputed their vision of modern society. They argued for miniatures produced by more traditional technologies in harmony with nature that would save the Kaiserreich from becoming a soulless, mediocre technocracy. They envisioned a smaller humanist elite with a background in creative and original thinking. The alternative vision redefined stereotypical masculinity as artistic creativity. This challenge to mechanical toys was one of the most visible manifestations of a broader critique of factory technology in Germany. It mirrored and was influenced by the mid-century English arts and crafts movement challenging the primacy of manufactured goods. While the local Secession movement calling for a reinvigoration of society via art and hand-made furniture was more influential, German thinkers were not unaware of John Ruskin. A group of artists and intellectuals founded Werkstatten in Munich (1897), Dresden (1898) and Darmstadt (1899) in order to design functional furniture and livable architecture. Although emphasizing traditional handcrafting practices, the Werkstatten never abandoned industrial production. Rather, they wanted to control what they saw as the soulless aspects of mechanical technology and produce socially integrating commodities. (24) Alfred Lichtwark agreed. In 1887 he published a book entitled Art in the Schools and argued that drawing, writing, theater, painting, music, dance and gymnastics had been largely replaced by modern technical subjects. He called for less emphasis on science and math and renewed focus on artistic creativity, to be achieved in part through play. He opposed any kind of instructional material or toy, however, which relied on mechanical production techniques to instruct children. Lichtwatk organized conferences after 1900 with the Dresdner Werk-statten covering toys. Recognizing that consumers had already been trained to buy toys on a regular basis, pedagogues, intellectuals, artists and mass-circulation newspapers focused their attention on this item in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible and undermine the discourse on technology and middle-class identity from within." (25) In 1908, the Werkstatt at Leipzig produced a series of hand-made wooden toys consciously designed as an alternative to factory offerings. Recently Urs Latus, a researcher at the Nuremberg Toy Museum, has shown that a popular exhibition held by the Nuremberg Trade Museum in 1904 specifically calling for non--mechanical miniatures also provided added impetus for a re-evaluation of the role of technology in childhood. (26) The consumer forum of the mass fair provided a means of bringing this message to the attention of a wide audience, even though none of these toys had ever gone on sale.
For example, critics of factory toys believed that simplicity was more important than exact miniaturization because this facilitated creativity. The journal Kind und Kunst, conceived and executed as a Secession-inspired forum to attack mechanical technology's role in the middle-class playroom, claimed "playthings are not what some shallow intellects would have us believe" but rather more general items that helped children use their fantasy. (27) F. Herrigel wrote "toys should be as simple as possible, or as changeable as possible, so that a child's fantasy is not limited." (28) In this vision, the ability to exactly reproduce deprived the child of the ability to play and think creatively. Educational reformer August Grube complained, "our [toy] industry has damaged the ability of our children to properly play insofar as they have created hundreds of new and exact miniatures that do not leave room for a child's fantasy but rather mirror objects of everyday material life." (29) A reporter for Westermanns Monatshefte seconded this fear saying, "an overabundance of technological toys makes the child pretentious and self-centered." (30) Rather than seeing technological mastery as the chief characteristic of the best citizens of bourgeois society (the engineers), it becomes something that is only useful insofar as it is subordinated to aesthetics and experimentation.
If mechanical toys were dangerous because they limited the child's ability to think, hand-crafted miniatures utilizing simpler technology offered opportunities to cultivate the child's intellect. The Illustrirte Zeitung, one of the most widely read periodicals in Germany, wrote that ideal toys should be handmade and constructed out of wood like those of Dresden. While such miniatures drew "uncomprehending first impressions" from the toy industry, this was only because they did not fit the notion that the engineer represented the ideal middle-class citizen. "A true-to-life horse which may actually possess a leather hide will clearly be of less interest to a youngster than a horse that allows the child's fantasy full range during play," the Illustrirte Zeitung reasoned because, "it provides for new possibilities." (31) A reporter for the Vossiche Zeitung used an anecdotal reference to suggest that technological miniatures did not create happy, productive, bourgeois engineers. "Recently an acquaintance of mine, the only child of wealthy parents, said that he did not have fond memories of his childhood," the reporter recalled, "despite the fact that he had wonderful toys." The acquaintance sat around bored and became "blase in the truest sense of the word." In the mind of the writer, there was no doubt that his friend's technological toys had stunted his creative and artistic growth as a child by forcing him to play in an overly regulated fashion. The answer to these problems was "the Dresden toys, made by artists." (32) Much like Alfred Lichtwark in Hamburg, these public intellectuals identified traditional, humanistic Bildung as the key component to economic success, national power and cultural greatness. Children who played with generic toys embodying "mechanical arts" operating in greater harmony with nature evinced more curiosity about the world and had a greater ability to think outside the box when presented with a problem. Such individuals were ideally suited to serve in business, government or the creation of culture according to this vision.
Eventually the middle-class reformers making these criticisms coalesced into groups. For example, Kind und Kunst appeared at just this time." (33) In 1904 various supporters of the Werkbund movement (associated with the Secession) led by Alexander Koch founded this periodical, one of whose goals was to make the case for artistic toys. Declaring "the goal of our lives is not to develop ourselves but younger generations," these artists, intellectuals, pedagogues and educational reformers placed the humanistic cultivation of bourgeois children at the center of the national project. (34) Numerous artistic luminaries weighed in on the unsuitability of technology for children. Konigesberg and Tubingen art historian Kontad Lange wrote the opening article and maintained that art stood opposed to physical reality as embodied in technology. He equated art to "play" that developed "intellectual freedom" in the individual. (35) Speaking specifically of toys he regretted that a pack of "thoughtless idealists'' in the toy industry had managed to associate exact miniaturization via mechanical technology with art, which led to the nonchalant attitudes and superficial intellect of wealthy children. (36) In much the same vein as Walter Benjamin's critique that mass reproduction of traditional items displaced their auras, Langer and Koch worried that something distinctly German was being lost through overemphasis on technological miniatures.
At roughly the same time many supporters of the toy reform movement formed into a loose association at a Berlin exhibition called Art in the Child's Life attended by nearly 100,000 people. They produced a manifesto articulating their goals. This clearly shows that civil society and consumer society cannot be viewed separately. Organizers purposely chose the spectacle of the mass exhibition, the epitome of public, middle-class space, to articulate their new vision of modern society so as to teach as broad an audience as possible. Far from rejecting the market, they embraced it as the logical means to persuade the populace. Specifically, they called for simple, sturdy, true-to-nature toys created via traditional technologies that would maintain connections between generations. In the case of girlhood and dolls, the reformers did not want to develop domestic managers dependent on the fashion and technology of the moment, but caring mothers who would be a bridge between adults/children, present/past, and public/private. Lili Droescher, leader of Berlin's most famous kindergarten, had this to say of the exhibition:
So far as we are able, we will try to correspond to nature. Wooden animals and wagons--in particular rocking horses--should be simple, solid and washable if possible. The dishes should he earthenware and iron, wooden building blocks and Noah's Ark are fine. A toy train without wind-up gears, dressable dolls that match the furniture and [various board games] are the only other toys needed. Everything should be solid, just like in earlier Jays so that young and old alike can enjoy them, and hopefully pass them on to the next generation. The playroom is a place of loving piety and thankful reminiscing ... In any event toys are not trendy consumer items (Modesachen). (37)
In the eyes of Droescher and her colleagues, children were simple, pure beings. They required toys of a similar nature. These miniatures had to be sturdy, solid, and reliable, grounded in German history and culture. This allowed bourgeois mothers to bond with children, to symbolically connect generations at a time of great change in Imperial Germany. This should not be seen as an anti-modern move, however. Their utilization of the mass spectacle of the exhibition is further evidence that the middle-class intellectuals pushing for humanistic toys were determined to engage with the public sphere and civil society as much as possible to get their point across. Also, it is no coincidence that women posited the ideal member of the modern nation-state as a feminine bridge-builder uniting people. Realizing that it was probably impossible to disassociate masculinity, the middle-class and technology, they emphasized a maternal humanistic sphere that would reconcile the many contradictions in German society and build a stronger nation. As Marion Kaplan has shown in her study of German-Jewish women, these artists used the tools available to them to carve out a space in modern society. (38)
Making and Selling Mechanical Toys
An examination of the theoretical debate in the press about post-1850 visions of the ideal middle-class citizen as masculine engineer or humanistic thinker is only the first step to discovering the relevance of consumer society for self-fashioning in Wilhelmine Germany. Millions of bourgeois adults also took part as consumers, buying miniatures for their own and other children at Christmas and on birthdays year after year. Going to the toy store developed into a consciously political act for millions of Germans whether they liked it or not. It is not dissimilar to buying a car today (does one get the new H3 or the Prius?). Having an electric as opposed to a wooden train in the playroom sent a clear message to houseguests about where one stood on the middle-class and modernity debate.
Toy railroads dominate our image of the playroom in Imperial Germany, but they only developed into a common play item after 1900. The real thing demonstrated mechanical technology's ability to control and transform natural environments. Trains annihilated traditional conceptions of time and space, and tracks and bridges transformed the landscape. (39) Toy trains taught similar lessons. The Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung concluded that "the toy industry is married to that most modern means of transportation the railroad in a special way. Trains with steam engines and wind-up gears make up a major component of the market for Nuremberg firms." Not only the trains themselves, but all the transfer equipment, buildings, lamps, signals and other "big technology" was turned into "little technology" for "the joy and educational opportunity of our youth." (40) They crossed over small rivers on wooden bridges and used tunnels to steam through paper mountains. Engines and cars could be connected and reconnected at will, much like miniature landscapes could be re-laid in the playroom. The purchase of new tracks increased the possibilities for manipulating the environment and suggested notions of interchangeability and unity achieved through the wonders of mechanical innovation. The same miniatures that embodied the socially transformative power of technology also functioned to maintain gender and class hierarchies. Entrepreneurs marketed trains exclusively at boys, and most parents never questioned this logic.
Standardized sizes, numerous accessories, the ability to add new track at will, and the interchangeability of parts all showed how technology facilitated human control over nature. Entrepreneurs miniaturized these things as carefully as possible. One collector of nineteenth century toy trains believes that the success enjoyed by Marklin, the most famous maker of this item, lay in its ability to continually create new accessories such as signal houses, storage yards, railroads crossings with policemen and even entire train stations. In a society where consumers had been trained to seek out the latest and greatest, toy trains seemed to offer a never ending possibility of technologically driven improvement. In 1900 another firm, Plank (41) introduced a new steam engine that had one oscillating cylinder attached directly to the axel by gears deep inside the locomotive. This required less heat but still produced sufficient power to run the trains. Marklin re-entered the fray with its Wuttemberg 2B express-train (1899) that had a boiler and working smokestack. The outside of the boiler was made of lead and, "the intensive inner hear of the boiler provide[d] for excellent performance and also has the great advantage that the flame does not heat up the outer walls." This reflected a pattern of constant upgrading (and obsolescence) through new technology. (42) The first electric locomotives appeared on the Reichsbahn after 1900 and in due course miniaturized versions entered the playroom. (43) Just like heavy industry, toy makers seemed to be able to solve any difficulty sent their way, tempting many adults to imagine that mechanical technology promised never-ending improvements to modern, middle-class lifestyles. (44)
These toys made an impression on consumers already inclined to believe in the ability of machines to transform environments. A reporter for the Scientific American Supplement wrote about a trip he took to a factory that made toy trains, including electric locomotives. "With but a single pressure of a stamping machine a piece of metal is given any shape ... in order to remove the jagged exterior ... the forms are taken to another room, turned and polished," he noted. The assembly process was just as scientific and efficient as the fabrication of parts, tight down to the ovens that baked the paint on in a few hours. The Scientific American Supplement accepted Germans' argument that "a child's play has deeper meanings than many would believe [which required] scientific accuracy." (45) At a more abstract level, however, adults and children simply fell in love with the toy trains. They may also have felt nostalgic for childhood in much the same way that parents today feel when they watch the same Disney Movies with their children that they first viewed thirty years ago. The contemporary collector literature on railroads surrounding this commodity always addressed those "who have never lost their childhood dreams." (46) A German writing in 1902 revealed sheepishly "that in all secrecy 1 want to reveal to you that there are very many adults who play with toy trains. I know a couple in Hamburg that have erected a railroad in one room of their home." It was wonderfully fitted, and every year it got a few meters longer, some sharper curves and more complicated signal equipment. It seems likely that at a time when parents bought toys (very few German children got allowances) these trains appealed even more to mothers and fathers than boys and girls. They embodied the joy of consumption and the bourgeois ideas of order and control. Toy trains could be made to run perfectly; unlike the Reichshahn they were never late. The workers did not strike, and the working class was not loud, noisy, or malodorous. (47)
If railways demonstrated how middle-class engineers provided dominance over natural environments, other toys suggested that mechanical technology-could just as easily provide mastery over built spaces. Entrepreneurs exploited the late nineteenth century infatuation with building and engineering to make money and further sell their vision of modern society. The origins of this interest dates to the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition in London. Joseph Paxton's steel framework and glass superstructure was not without precursors, but it was the scale that caught spectators' imaginations--a massive building to display the endless products from England's huge and growing empire. It seemed to suggest that iron, steel and technology equaled (national) power. By the time Gustav Eiffel's tower designed to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution opened, many contemporaries were prepared to proclaim it as an icon of the "iron century" and an example of the power of technology when harnessed to the political aspirations of nations. The fact that people referred to the tower by Eiffel's name also reflects the massive gains in status made by the engineers, that ultimate exemplar of the middle-class male. In his proposal for the structure Eiffel wrote "the tower can worthily embody the art of the modern engineer and the century of industry and science whose path was paved by 1789." (48)
The infatuation with architecture and building allowed one German toy firm to rebrand an older toy as something that taught boys the possibilities of modern engineering. This was the Anchor Building Blocks sold by Richter & Cie. Headquartered in Rudolfstadt, Thuringia, Richter first marketed the blocks in 1878. By 1914 the company had offices in Vienna, Nuremberg, Rotterdam, London and New York City (on Broadway). At first glance, these building blocks did not seem much of a technological toy, but they showed the same progression through new materials that one sees with toy trains. Originally made of wood in the 1870s, the firm switched to sandstone as a hard but light substance that held its shape and did not chip easily. With the introduction of industrial plastics after 1900 the firm pressed blocks out of this substance.
Richter advertised them as teaching principles of engineering to a youthful middle-class, male audience that hopefully included Germany's future Joseph Paxton or Gustav Eiffel. The blocks came in sets intended for the construction of cathedrals, castles, and train stations but could be used interchangeably to build anything. Anchor advertisements always adopted the same strategy of showing young, bourgeois boys in naval outfits putting the finishing touches on massive structures of multi-shaped building blocks. The uniform provides not only class identity but marks them as patriots. One occasionally sees girls, but they are always watching, thus making a clear connection between masculinity, engineering, class and the nation. Richter shrewdly reprinted letters from satisfied customers suggesting building blocks changed badly behaved boys into careful and systematic miniature engineers. Leo Bromberg, a Gymnasium teacher in Germany wrote "[your building blocks] transformed my wild boy into someone who plays in an orderly and quiet manner. 1 and thousands of other fathers and educators thank you for what you had done for our youth." (49) Orderliness, exactitude, good taste, invention, creation, innovation, control: all these things are markers of good engineers/architects/builders. The real advantage adults saw in Anchor toys was that they shaped young boys into socially useful citizens of the nation. They identified the ideal person as a middle-class, educated, male professional, not a disorderly but masculine worker. Indeed, the Gymnasium teacher even thanked Richter for the service the company performed for German youth as a group, civilizing them and preparing them for roles as citizens. In the best Enlightenment tradition, these toys and others such as steamships and erector sets seemed to offer the opportunity for rational play with utilitarian goals that would nurture future members of the nation. (50)
It is clear what most parents wanted when they bought toys, but it is more challenging to find out if young boys really listened. No focus groups, telephone surveys or statistical early childhood development research exists from 1900. We must rely on memoirs, many of which were written decades later. Some scholars see this as enough reason to ignore memoirs completely, but I think that is misguided. Carefully handled, they provide useful insights into what people thought they were supposed to learn and what they assumed constituted normal play. Staying in the same time period but switching subjects, Jay Winter and Paul Fussell radically altered the way we understand World War I by making careful use of combat memoirs, some of which were written (and rewritten) decades after the fact. Fussell carefully explained why Robert Graves' Goodbye to AH That is valuable because it shows how left-liberal British soldiers interpreted the war in terms of irony even though the author made up some of his examples. Winter has done the same for Henri Barbusse arguing that whatever mistakes he made in describing uniforms or assaults are minor in comparison to what we can glean from his works; the white-hot rage French soldiers felt toward the political establishment for mismanaging the war. (51) So while I remain sensitive to the limitations of memoirs, what they reveal is illuminating. Almost universally, memoirs show that boys accepted that the ideal male was a middle-class professional at ease with technology. Telling are autobiographical remembrances such as those of Hanns von Spielberg and Hermann Oberth. (52) Spielberg, a journalist reflecting on his childhood during the Kaiserreich, wrote in Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte that Anchor blocks turned him into a "builder (Bastler) and 1 never looked back." He argued that toy manufacturing consciously and conscientiously followed "the advance of technology (Fortschritte der Technik)" and in the process prepared boys to engage with modern society by practicing to become an engineer. Technological toys "opened up whole new areas" of life and that there could be no doubt that "what the doll is for girls the railroad is for boys." These miniatures socialized males and females into appropriate gender roles. (53) Born into a small village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1894, Oberth grew up to study physics and held teaching positions at the universities of Vienna and Dresden. He worked for the Nazis at Pennemunde on the V-2 in World War II and then for the Americans (alongside Werner von Braun) in Alabama in the 1950s. Oberth retired to Nuremberg in the 1960s. Looking hack at his childhood, he attributed his interest in science and rocketry to books and toys he received as a child. At age 11 his father gave him a tome entitled From Earth to the Moon and also Jules Verne's journey to the Moon. "I began to think if such trips would actually be possible. 1 discovered the connection between acceleration, speed, mass, and resistance." Later Oberth's father bought him an erector set that he happily played with and which kept him focused on technology even though his village "had no electricity until 1908." He attributed his love of science to play with technological miniatures. (54)
Other boys learned to fit mechanical technology into a specifically German framework. Born in Munich in 1900, Gunther Grassman studied architecture and later became a professor at Frankfurt during World War II. As a child he remembered being, "fascinated by everything technological, including modern means of transportation and air travel." He and his brother revered early aviators like Salomon Andree and the Wright brothers and later convinced their father to buy them a toy Zeppelin. He recalled seeing this as a particular marker of German technological superiority during World War I. (55) Further youngsters also remembered the Zeppelin as a major symbol of technology miniaturized for the playroom and suggesting national greatness. (56) Kurt Doberer, born in Nuremberg in 1904, studied engineering at Erlangen before fleeing the Nazis in 1933. He returned to Germany in 1949 and published a long line of books on political and technical themes. He remembered "that from an early age my father steered me towards technology. At five I got a small steam engine and a toy train." Like many boys of the period air travel infatuated him. His father bought a model airplane that they built together and flew in the backyard. Doberer recalled these experiences as the basis of his interest in engineering and claimed they encouraged him to seek mechanical solutions to problems in modern society because these could not be corrupted by ideology. (57)
This idealized image of the engineer as masculine, bourgeois manipulator of machines showed impressive durability; it survived the catastrophe of World War I unscathed. It is difficult to gauge the effect of such images on girls, but a 1933 study by German pedagogue Maria Ziegler explored this issue. Ziegler found that both sexes enjoyed playing with building blocks and erector sets when presented solely with this kind of miniature. Revealingly, she discovered boys spent much more time building things with blocks, erector sets or similar toys when left to their own devices, but that the girls read, played with dolls or handcrafted knick-knacks. Ziegler concluded that boy's higher propensity for technology as adults were due simply to the fact that girls received less exposure to technological miniatures. (58)
That is not an entirely correct assessment. If boys learned that mechanical technology promised dominance over natural environments and built areas, girls heard messages telling them that middle-class women needed to effectively govern domestic spaces. Girls learned early on that men made new technology while women utilized it for prescribed roles. Young males explored transport, building and military advances associated with the public life of the nation to fulfill their roles as citizens, while females had to learn to effectively run a household. Marion Kaplan elucidated the importance of maintaining a civilized household for middle-class Jewish families in Imperial Germany, but her insights apply equally to German gentiles. An efficiently run home symbolized mastery and cultivation (Bildung) of private roles essential for acceptance in public life. Intriguingly, only mothers and wives could acquire this home-Bildung for their families. Men were assumed to be masters of the house but not actual managers. Masculine gender norms required them to maintain a middle-class family lifestyle but prohibited them from running the home on a daily basis. This made finding a wife who could function as a domestic manager essential to respectability. All middle-class families aspired to domestic respectability to some degree, and mothers made a conscious effort to train daughters in the intricacies of creating Bildung in the home. (59)
Producers marketed mechanical miniatures to mothers by stressing their ability to teach girls how to create an orderly domestic life via technology. Paul Hildebrandt wanted girls to learn "hospitality" and "cooking skills" by "practicing in the doll kitchen," Everything that she used from "the dishes to table cloths in their small format [should] correspond to the shape and function of those of adults," right down to the cookbooks, he argued. Hildebrandt believed this would teach girls the discipline and focus necessary to run a household and contribute to the orderly functioning of society from the home. As part of this process it was essential to have everything necessary for the effective operation of a real kitchen. This included "coffee, sugar, oil, flour, salt, boxes of spices, skewering pads, sieves, funnels, pudding trays, measuring spoons, coffee-grinders, electric rolling pins, bowls with handles, meat tenderizer, strainer and finally buckets, mops, washing tubs and the whole range of porcelain, iron and enamel dishes." In other words, girls needed access to the repetoire of technological implements making up the modern kitchen in order to learn their roles as female citizens. (60)
Just like their masculine counterparts, girls' toys embodied the latest technological advances. Where previously they were made out of porcelain or wood, kitchens now came with "sparkling [metal] fittings, a huge pantry that held masses of dishes and containers, a bench for drying and all the other innumerable necessities that the modern kitchen demands." The metal sink and washboard was conveniently located a few steps from the oven for maximum efficiency. The washing area came with real "brass rails" for hanging rags. Everything needed to establish modern control over the middle-class domestic environment existed in exact miniature so that parent's could buy it for daughters. All these appliances were not luxuries but necessities without which one could not maintain a middle-class lifestyle. Once girls had a little kitchen, parents could fill it with plates and dishes. Traditionally these had also been fabricated out of porcelain that broke easily. Later producers used lead but its hardness made it difficult to mold. (61)
Toy catalogs make clear the emphasis on reproducing modern domestic technology for girls as closely as possible. For example, Marklin is remembered today for its trains but the firm made its original mark with technological miniatures for girls. The 1895 catalog advertised four gas cooking ovens of various sizes "that worked exactly like [the real thing]." Marklin reassured parents there was no danger of explosion or fires because the burner was located at the bottom and could be turned on and off with a button. Like a real stove, these miniatures were made out of lead and came with copper pots and pans. Another twelve pages of the Marklin catalog brimmed with various kitchen accessories and utensils that could be added to the oven to complement the doll kitchen. These included cookie cutters, casserole pans in the shape of fish, twelve-piece utensil sets, irons, ladles, pans, vinegar taps, coffee grinders (that worked), cookbooks, furniture, candle holders, graters, milk warmers, waffle makers, washing boards, bread baskets, cake stands and brooms. (62) This clearly shows that producers imagined the middle-class as both the ideal lifestyle and customer; working class kitchens did not contain most of these appliances although doubtlessly this was often a source of shame. Nonetheless, even though the catalogue advertised many girl toys it reproduced the gender division. It contained about 100 pages, of which the first 60 or so dealt exclusively with miniatures designed for males. The last 30 pages contained domestic miniatures. Girls would have had to flip through numerous boy toys before getting to exemplars designed for them. It also seems likely that they would have noticed that there were quite few more toys for boys than for them.
As with their male counterparts, it is also challenging to discover if girls internalized the message about mechanical technology. All of the surviving autobiographical evidence was written years after the fact by adults but it also suggests that many women accepted roles as domestic managers of middle-class spaces. Marie Leske, author of The Illustrated Playbook for Girls carefully described how young, German females should order their dollhouses exactly like their mothers' home: "The orderly doll-mother cleans and puts everything away after cooking, so that everything stands ready to use." Leske argued that play with dolls and dollhouses made girls clean, orderly, conscientious and thorough. "To prove this point," Leske wrote, "1 must return to my own childhood," where I had thirteen of my own dolls." (63) Writing some years later on the eve of World War I, childhood expert Clara Zinn stated "that above all else dolls and dollhouses are the best toys for girls." Both women backed up their arguments with anecdotal evidence from their childhood. (64)
Making and Selling Traditional Toys
Not surprisingly, this consumer cult of mechanical toys repelled certain Germans. In particular, those adults who wanted to protect more localized and substantive notions of Heimat as a source of middle-class identities balked at factory-made miniatures. Heimat is difficult to translate into English, but recent scholarship shows that many Germans learned to see their local homelands (Heimat) as a portal through which they identified with the possibilities of the new German Empire as a modern nation after 1871. (65) Heimat is also associated with racism, Anti-Semitism and the political right. Where toys were concerned, however, reformers joined politically liberal groups such as secessionist artists and fringe individuals such as Heinrich Pudor of the nudist movement. Using miniatures to influence the debate about technology drew these people together as they argued that local homelands offered an alternative middle-class vision of the modern Germany being built from Berlin outwards. Its supporters did not deny that the Kaiserreich had problems, or that toys could teach youngsters valuable social skills, but they called for a different solution. They did not deny the value of railroads of organic chemistry) they simply wanted individuals trained in humanistic traditions to determine how it would be used. Their answer to Imperial Germany's many structural and social incongruities could be found in a vision of modernity that emphasized the ability of traditional technologies to nurture society. These reformers, all of whom came from university, artistic, and pedagogical backgrounds, still offered toy trains but these stood in marked contrast to the fetishization of miniaturized technology normally associated with this item. Their ideal middle-class citizen could be male or female and searched for harmony rather than dominance; he or she reconciled old and new in a balanced fashion.
For example, in 1910 Secession artists Viktor and Lina Schufinsky displayed a wooden train entitled Orientexpress at the Deutsche Werhstatte fur Handwerk skunst Dresden. The Schufinsky's intended simplicity of form as a political statement; their toy could never be confused with those of Marklin. Rather than teaching a specific vision of the engineer as the ideal member of society, they wanted to provide children with a basic object that would encourage them to use their sense of fantasy. Intended for both boys and girls, the simple, stylized wooden cars looked generically like passenger carriages, but with none of the detail. The doors could not be opened, the windows did not go up or down, and there was no trim. Constructed out of a solid block of wood, the locomotive had wheels but no engine of any type. Furthermore, the train did not come with tracks. The hand-painted decorations on the cars embodied themes and patterns drawn from-early modern Germany. The solid wooden construction was consciously intended as a counterpoint to complex metal trains. The latter threatened to break if play became too vigorous, while the former could always be relied upon. Actually, miniature railroads with working engines did explode in the playroom from time to time, reinforcing the beliefs of those who wanted to banish technology from the playroom as inherently dangerous to children. Whatever else happened, the simple wooden train could be relied upon in the same way as traditional German values to guide youngsters through the modern world. Obviously, the Schufinskys' train was technological, but it relied on planers, hand saws and sanding rather than machine tools. (66)
Because many Germans took the cultural value of toys so seriously, these wooden miniatures found their way into periodicals whose editors looked skeptically at mechanical toys, including the lllustrierte Zeitung. Often these traditional miniatures included domestic animals, village scenes and individuals clothed in traditional costumes. Artist Karl Gruber created such a vista in 1907 with a church at the center. Surrounded by several large Renaissance-style houses, it is difficult to tell which century they belong to. It could easily he the 16th or the 20th. The only mode of transportation to be seen is horse-drawn carriages. There is not a railroad station in sight, nor does one see newer transportation technologies such as the automobile, by now a staple in some playrooms. The accompanying article makes clear that these Dresden toys are old in inspiration but new in form and ideology. Unlike mechanical miniatures "they do not forger to remind of us of traditional folk and Heimat moments." (67) Gruber consciously-advertised the village as an ideal location in the new Reich, even though more citizens than ever before lived in cities. Other typical toys from the Werstatten in Dresden included hand-painted, wooden figurines. One included three figures: a regal king in the center in purple robe sporting a scepter, a poor old man on the left begging for aims, and a smiling official looking as non-threatening as possible. All of the figures are in medieval dress that no one wore in 20th century Germany. The poor beggar comes to his king for help, instead of joining the Social Democratic Party and agitating for change and the end of monarchy. The official is smiling and plump, not threatening in any way. He looks mote like a congenial uncle than the famously heartless bureaucrats of late Imperial Germany as imagined by Heinrich Mann. Even the king appears to he a wise, old grandfather, far above politics. Surely if there was ever a person who could solidly run a country and navigate all the pitfalls of modern society, it is he as opposed to the severe, uniform-wearing William II. This is an entirely different view of the middle class (and the Pobel and the nobility, for that matter) as people able to reconcile differences. The accompanying article, written by reporter Anna Brunnemann of the Berliner Tageblatt, made clear that these items should be read "as an urgent warning against toy stores filled with true-to-life miniatures." Toys should be based on love, "simple and primitive," Brunnemann argued, just like the relationship between mother and child, or between king and subject. (68)
Rather than teaching children to look for specific, mechanical solutions, these reformers wanted technology to help children to take a mote artistic, individualized approach. In an article on these and similar stylized toys from Dresden, Kind und Kunst reported that a number of other artists had "taken the tried and true things of children's play and given them new forms [particularly] simplicity of shape, strong colors and durability." Instead of interpreting them using the latest technology to make a toy so delicate that it easily broke, these artists strove for solidity. The editors argued "the same toys which amused Romans and Athenians ... also enrapture children in the twentieth century." This statement provides another crucial insight into the fight over the place of technology in toys. Toy reformers wanted children to identify with an idealized past in which contemporary Germans represented the heirs to all that was best in the Western cultural tradition. They envisioned middle-class citizens who possessed the technological rationality and balance of classical Athenians, not Max Weber's soulless technocrats from The Protestant Ethic. (69)
As part of this re-articulation, reform toy makers erased some of the gender hierarchies associated with mechanical miniatures and the bourgeoisie. This was perhaps the most appealing part of their platform for many women. Lichtwark and other Secession members imagined that both boys and girls would play with wooden trains as well as figurines. Artists like Kathe Kruse (1883-1968) reinterpreted doll forms in line with those visions of technology and modern life that challenged the notion that women should function only as domestic managers. She designed, perfected, made, marketed, sold, and packaged a reform doll that cast women and girls as artistic creators, not passive consumers of male-produced commodities. (70) In her memoirs, Kruse clearly stated that the origin of her character dolls lay in disgust with factory-made dolls as well as her severe, bourgeois husband's refusal to believe that she could create anything on her own. Not unaware of the arts and crafts movement and the Berliner Secession, she saw the dolls as an opportunity to assert herself independently of the artistic control of her husband. (71) Like Kaplan's Jewish mothers, she hoped to utilize the domestic sphere to challenge male dominance of modern society and open up the public arena for women. Believing that mechanical male-produced dolls did not measure up to girls' and boys' needs, Kruse articulated a new vision of this toy; they had to nurture motherly feelings, not provide some kind of technical education for running a kitchen. She wrote, "1 knew exactly what a doll had to be ... a union of the primitive and the natural." To support her argument Kruse recalled, "I was supposed to play with those [factory-made] paper-mache dolls with the movable limbs and porcelain head as a child, but I just couldn't do it," because they did not move her. She maintained instead that the way to a child's heart was not through its eyes in the form of a perfectly miniaturized doll, but through its hands in the shape of a soft toy. (72) Kruse and her supporters articulated a maternal feminism. They did not seek female equality but rather hoped to eject men from their control over the meaning of childhood and insert themselves as artistic-rmrturers possessed of a unique knowledge necessary for raising children. Since nearly everyone saw children as the future of the nation, this represented an attempt to have a say about what the future of Germany would look like. (73)
Although they hoped to explode the gender boundaries, Koch, Lange, Kruse and the Schufmskys certainly wanted to shape children's understanding of middle-class identity as much as factory producers. Konrad Lange wrote in the first issue of Kind und Kunst about "intellectual freedom and the ability to think critically; we want to use art to give these things to our children [of both sexes]" because "play and art are identical." He referred dismissively to the new Enlightenment pedagogy designed to prepare children for a calling (Beruf) with toys "in a Darwinian sense." In his opinion, play should help children mature creatively into artists because this was the only way to fully develop "intellectually and physically." This was vitally important if the nation was to survive, Lange argued, because "only gifted, broad and fully developed people, called artists" can lead and improve "these less-developed, un-gifted and damaged people known as the laity." Therefore, although their focus on traditional "mechanical arts" was designed to be nurturing and harmonious, it was not. necessarily more democratic than the vision of technology articulated by factory producers (74) Instead of the masculine engineer the reformers posited the gender-neutral artist as the ideal middle-class citizen in the modern nation-state. Furthermore, where producers of technological toys aimed at a nation-wide audience that they hoped would include all children in gender-specific ways, reform toy makers targeted a much smaller audience of children who they hoped would act as leaders. Admittedly, they had no qualms about recruiting this select few from the working class, but they did not envision a democracy or even a meritocracy. This also sheds light on another fundamental debate about the shape of modern society in Imperial Germany: would politics revolve around new rules of mass-participation or more time-honored traditions of rule via an oligarchic but engaged elite.
Fighting over Toys, Fighting over Modernity?
None of these reformers (including Kruse) managed to carve out a large market for reform toys before WWI, and one finds little evidence in diaries that children played with them. Despite the time and effort artists put into alternative miniatures and the sympathetic press coverage they received, they did not represent a significant commercial challenge to factory producers any more than the Werkstatten threatened established furniture makers. For better or for worse, entrepreneurs made a more compelling case that the engineer represented the ideal middle-class citizen. Although makers of factory toys articulated a problematic vision of modern society, their focus on a mass-consumer audience in an age of increasing democracy was a winning strategy. That does not mean that the advocates of more traditional technologies did not exert long-term impact, however. Some factory makers started mass-producing "traditional" wooden toys on the side once they realized that some kind of a market existed. After WW1, Kathe Kruse also carved out a market for her character dolls. Today the only major surviving German toy makers (such as HABA) focus almost exclusively on these humanistic toys. This is an early example of the way consumer culture both permits and then absorbs subversive discourses into the mainstream.
Nonetheless, in the early 20th century manufacturers fought off the alternative vision of technology by arguing that traditional toys threatened Germany's national economic health, that there was no going back from mechanical technology now, and that the social theory of intellectuals like Lichtwark was false. For example, factory owners obtusely claimed that reform toys threatened the economy by challenging a dominant industry. The Rundschau uber Spielwaren argued "the German toy industry is well placed to compete with other nations in the production of new toys ... precisely because of our rich technological ideas, advances and ideas." (75) Other partisans of the mechanical vision of technology argued that the decision to seek technical solutions to Germany's problems had been decided long ago so that debate was pointless. Factory owner Gustav von Freienfelde wrote dismissively of:
Grandmothers, aunts and in some case pedagogues raise the alarm that we should return to massive and simple toys. In the process they throw away the experience of our young people whose own stage-like development seems to sit in contradiction to their call [for generic toys] ... the result is that a good deal of the wasted potential of childhood today is laid at the feet of the toy industry [although we work] with unequaled refinement, precision and attention to realism." (76)
In his opinion, the technology and class issue had long been decided in favor of the engineers. Finally, factory producers scoffed at intellectuals like Lichtwark who believed that artistic education was the only way to create critical thinkers. While admitting that "the industry cannot simply ignore Naturalism [i.e. the arts and crafts) as a movement that dominates all areas of art," producers still claimed they had good pedagogical reasons to focus on mechanical toys. Educator Karl Frobel and anthropologist Friedrich Groos framed the cultural and scientific limits of the debate about play with toys, and they each emphasized the importance of structure. Generic non-technological toys might help children develop their fantasies and provide them with pleasure according to the Rundschau, but they could never replace the technical miniatures role of preparing children for future adult roles. (77)
Factory owners did not destroy the vision of a modern society nurtured by the traditional "mechanical arts" advocated by artists and intellectuals, however. Eric Wulf, a reporter for the Berliner Tageblatt, pointed out that, ironically, mechanized production was the key to getting Kathe Kruse's character dolls with their gender-neutral, nurturing vision of the middle-class to the marketplace. He noted that a number of shrewd entrepreneurs had taken the most appealing aspects of reform dolls and combined these with mechanical varieties. The result was that "somewhere between half and three quarters of all dolls sold in Germany are made up of 'improved' baby character dolls with closing eyes, real hair, and mouths that smiled. The rest consist of the old-style technological dolls. [The old dolls] won both directly and indirectly. It is clear that women want beautiful dolls ... as do the children." Consumers liked some of the attributes attached to reform dolls. One can imagine many middle-class mothers happily buying dolls made by other bourgeois women who argued that females had the ability to make a unique contribution to German society via consumption if given the chance. They combined elements of both discourses and sought out miniatures that fit their desires. These included the hybrids that had the only characteristic of reform dolls (individualized baby faces) that really appealed to German buyers. Remarkably, factory production created the illusion of handcrafting for many consumers. (78)
One firm, Kammer & Reinhardt, located in Thuringia, eventually bought the production tights to Kruse's dolls for 5,000 Marks because she had not patented them. While she used the money to outfit a Werkstatt, Kammer began mass-producing character dolls adding hair and eyes that closed. This infuriated Kruse, who wanted nothing to do with mass-production and opposed alterations in her design. (79) She found herself limited to selling to American customers, while Kammer introduced the hybrid reform/mechanical dolls to the domestic market. The differentiated faces and baby form signaled this toy as an artistic character doll, but the closing eyes fulfilled the needs of those consumers who also wanted greater accuracy. The Rundschau wrote admiringly, "in spite of all these new ideas [from Kruse and Kaulitz] reform dolls would have gone unnoticed within the industry if not for Kammer & Reinhardt--we must recognize the service they have done us--who used their practical and technical experience to give these new ideas [commercial] value." Initially, Kammer tried to sell "six-week-old" character babies with simple faces and individualized names like Hans, Grete, Peter and Marie, but without success. The firm kept the individualized names and baby form for the doll but returned to porcelain heads with teal hair and eyes that closed. This combination of mechanical characteristics with individualized style proved saleable and a number of other firms entered the market. (80)
This shows that despite the hegemonic power of factory producers to make toys casting gifts as domestic managers, consumer culture allowed the formation of an alternative discourse. The supporters of this new ideal believed that dolls needed to be simple and sturdy so that girls learned to see themselves as nurturers and creators (rather than domestic managers) responsible for shaping futute generations of Germans. In order to succeed, however, Kathe Kruse had to use the same mechanical production and marketing techniques available to the male producers she believed had so dismally failed to provide girls with adequate toys. This corresponds to what the leading scholar of girlhood and dolls in the US, Miriam Forman-Brunell, has found in a similar struggle between male manufacturers of dolls and female artists in America around 1900. "One the one hand," Forman-Brunell wrote, "businessmen created dolls they marketed as symbols of an idealized feminine domesticity; on the other, women dollmakers manufactured toys that embodied more malleable notions of girlhood and boyhood." Arguing that most feminist scholars assumed a study of dolls was worthless because they were terminally suffused with patriarchal gender notions designed to maintain the existing social order, Forman-Brunell discovered, "businesswomen re-appropriated dolls to suit their social agenda." As it turns out these toys are instructive sites to explore the negotiation of middle-class female identity in the United States in 1900. (81) The situation in Germany was analogous in many ways and invites a similar analysis. Male doll-makers in Germany religiously miniaturized dolls just like their counterparts across the Atlantic in hopes of showing girls the joys of managing a middle-class household via the latest technology. This monolithic discourse inadvertently but not surprisingly created an easy targel for critics of the establishment. It reminds us that practices of consumption permit the dissemination of tyrannical ideals about gender, but also enables the subversion of these norms. There is room for self-fashioning. Kathe Kruse carved out a stable niche for herself, and her firm is still in business, transplanted from Berlin to Bavaria after World War II. Indeed it is one of the few surviving toy firms from the Imperial period, and hers is now such an established name among collectors as to be an immovable part of the establishment. The only people who buy mechanical miniatures in Germany today are collectors.
This interpretation usefully complicates how scholars traditionally understood the ways toys allowed consumers to fight over middle-class identity. For example, in his book on toys in the US during the 20th century Gary Cross argued that producers gave up on true-to-life miniatures designed to prepare boys and girls for real life after WWII. He believes this is because they stopped marketing to parents and aimed directly at children as consumers. Thus today we have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and not erector sets. He sees this as a oneway power flow. Marketers, entrepreneurs and advertisers decided to change the rules and everyone else had no choice but to follow. So parents who had the agency to choose an erector set before 1945 somehow lost this power after the Second World War. There is less published research on Germany in the first half of the century but it also mostly assumes that elites make products and tell consumers what to think. This is regrettable because recent scholarship about the artistic and childhood reform movements by Jennifer Jenkins shows that these individuals did use the market to shape the ideals associated with middle-class life. Nonetheless the existing historiography on reform toys in Germany suggests they had no market niche before 1914. According to this interpretation, when they did achieve a consumer base it was because catastrophic defeat changed how adults viewed childhood after 1945, not because of any consumer demand by ordinary people. This interpretation ignores the ability of citizens in capitalist societies to make their voices heard and influence production. Producers do not make things that no one will buy. As we have seen, the artists who tried to challenge technological toys did not have much success until entrepreneurs realized that slightly modifying their vision meant making it commercially viable. Consumer culture is what took the humanistic discourse about the ideal middle-class citizen from an abstract idea to successful commercial realization over a period of years. If the market had not been there, its ideals would have disappeared from the mainstream, public arena. (82)
I have argued that toys allowed millions of comfortably situated Germans to participate in a debate in Imperial Germany about the role modern technology would play in shaping the ideal middle-class citizen. Germany's nascent consumer culture easily facilitated this argument. One side envisioned the ideal German as a masculine engineer using mechanized machines to control human and natural environments, the other envisioned humanistically-trained individuals seeking nurturing solutions whose gender did not particularly matter. Neither side wanted to entirely destroy the other, but both felt compelled to argue that only their vision could ensure a strong Germany. In the end, it is clear that the engineers and entrepreneurs won this debate. Nonetheless, artists and intellectuals carved out a space for themselves and their vision of the middle-class and its relationship to technology that endured through two world wars and still appeals to many educated people. The significance of this fight over bourgeois identity and modernity to the broader historiography of Germany is that it provides yet more evidence that the Kaiserreich was not a land of cultural despair, although this is still a common assumption of many scholars working within the Federal Republic. Instead of succumbing we see that middle-class Germans actively and aggressively engaged with one another in public over issues such as the intellectual make-up of a good citizen. The vision of entrepreneurs was more inclusive, but that of the artists admitted more self-fashioning in gender roles. As part of this debate the competing sides had fully articulated programs which they were prepared to publicly explicate and defend through the first decades of the twentieth century. This is an important reminder that Wilhelmine Germany possessed a highly developed consumer culture that enabled average citizens to stake out a position on deeply divisive social and cultural issues much sooner than many historians are prepared to admit. More broadly, this analysis provides yet more evidence historians need to accept that consumer culture is neither wholly evil or entirely liberating, as frustrating as that might be. A concise definition would suggest that it permits personal self-fashioning within certain broad frameworks. These practices have impacted a majority of Western Europe's population since at least the end of the 19th century and probably much earlier. This process can serve to reinforce existing social hierarchies, but it can also subvert others (such as gender relations) in the right situation. Since now more than ever before we all exist within a consumer framework, this is an important insight to keep in mind.
Department of History
Charleston, SC 29424-0001
(1.) "Has Weihnachtsspielzeug und die moderne Technik," Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung, No. 24, 18 December 1911, p. 759.
(2.) F. Dusel, "Von Spiel und Spielzeug," Westermanns Monatshefte, 1906, p. 588.
(3.) Modris Eksteins, The Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modem Age, (Boston, 1989), p. xvi.
(4.) Traditionally, the historiography covering middle-class visions of the modern in Wilhelmine Germany conceptualized the debate in terms ot the politics of cultural despair among intellectuals. Eminent scholars such as Fritz Stern argued that Germany's middle-class elite became disillusioned with the class, race, and gender problems of their new nation but come up with no solutions other than a retreat into xenophobia and nationalism. See Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (Berkeley, 1961). More recently see Barbara Beslich, Wege in den '"Kulturkneg". Zivilisationskritik in Deutschland 1890-1914 (Darmstadt, 2000); Adelheid von Saldern, The Challenge of Modernity:German Social and Cultural Studies, 1890-1960 (Ann Arbor, 2002).
(5.) Recent research has considerably modified this interpretation of Germany's intellectual elite, which in any case is only based on a slim selection of leading thinkers. Also, there is a growing awareness that consumer practices are important to understanding political choices, but many scholars are reluctant to extend such analysis back to the Imperial period. See Harry Liebersohn, Fate and Utopia in German Sociology 1870-1923 (Cambridge, 1988); Peter Jelavich, Munich and Theatrical Modernism: Politics, Playwritingand Performance 1890-1914 (Cambridge, 1985); On consumer culture the literature is now massive. See Marion A. Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity in Imperial Germany (New York, 1991); Craig Clunas, "Modernity Global and Local: Consumption and the Rise of the West," American Historical Review, 104 (December 1999): 1497-1511. An even more forceful demand for consumption as the new master narrative is found in Daniel Miller, "Consumption as the Vanguard of History: A Polemic by Way of an Introduction," Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies ed. Daniel Miller, (London, 1995), pp. 1-57. Peter Stearns categorizes modern history by periods of consumption in "Stages of Consumerism: Recent Work on the Issues of Periodization," Journal of Modern History 69 (1997): 102-117; Faul Glennie, "Consumption Within Historical Studies," Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies (London, 1995), pp. 164-203. In related fields such as media studies practices of consumption have also taken center stage. See David Morley, "'Theories of Consumption in Media Studies," Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies, pp. 296-328; For issues specifically German see Alon Confino & Rudy Koshar, "Regimes of Consumer Culture: New Narratives in Twentieth-Century German History," German History 19:2 (2001): 135-161; Belinda Davis, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill, 2000), pp. 3, 237; Nancy R. Reagin, "Marktordnung and Autarkic. Housekeeping: Housewives and Private Consumption under the Four-Year Plan, 1936-1939," German History 19:2 (2001): 162-184; Katherine Pence, "'You as a Woman Will Understand': Consumption, Gender and the Relationship between State and Citizenry in the GDR's Crisis of 17 June 1953," German History 19:2 (2001): 218-252; Konrad H. Jarausch & Michael Geyer, Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories (Princeton, 2003).
(6.) David Hamlin, Work and Play: The Production and Consumption of Toys in Germany, 1870-1914 (Ann Arbor, 2007), pp. 34-36.
(7.) Jennifer Jenkins, Provincial Modernity: Local Politics & Provincial Culture in fin-de-siecle Hamburg (Ithaca, 2003).
(8.) August Jegel, Die Wirischaftliche Entwicklung von Nurnberg-Furth, Stein und des Nurn-herger Raumes seit 1806 (Nurnberg, 1952), pp. 213-214; Das Buch der alten Firman der Stada Nurnberg im Jahre 1930, ed. Emil Rcickc & Walter Gerlach (Leizpig, 1930), pp. 70, 95; "Die Spielwarenindustrie auf der Leipziger Messe," Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung, Nr. 5 1 March 1911, pp. 144-145; Anschutz, Industrie, Handel und Verkehr im Herzogtum Sachsen-Meiningen, p. 50; Anschutz, "Die deutsche Spielwarenindustrie," Wegweiser, Nr. 649, January 1914, pp. 14-16.
(9.) "Bilder von der Strasse," Berliner Morgenpost, Tuesday, 22 December 1908; "Fine Umfrage udas Weihnachtsmarkt," Berliner Morgenpost, Sunday, 1 2 December 1910; "Der Silberne Sonntag," Berliner Morgenpost, Monday, 12 December 1910; "Weihnachrs-markt," Berliner Morgenpost, Sunday, 12 December 1914; "Der Goldene: Viel Schein und wenig Geld," Berliner Morgenpost, Sunday, 21 December 191.4; Silberne Sonntag," Berliner Morgenpost, Monday, 14 December 1914; "Dev verregnete silberne Sonntag: Schlechtes Wetter massiges Geschaft," Berliner Morgenpost, Monday, 1 5 December 1913.
(10.) Margarete Flecken, Arbeiterkinder im 19. Jahrhundert, Fine sozialgeschichtlich Untersucung ihrer Lehenswelt (Basel, 1981), pp. 151-156. The same situation held for girls. Adelheid Popp (1869-1939) wrote "that people who felt sorry for me gave me a doll or some other toy when it had been replaced by something bigger or better for their own children."It seems that for most working class children toys represented a marker of a normal childhood, but one that remained distant from their daily lives.
(11.) SecThomas P. Hughes, Human-Built World: How to Think about Technology and Culture (Chicago, 2004); Leo Marx, The Machine in the Gardan: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (Nevv York, 1964).
(12.) All contemporaries recognized technology played a leading role in the political, social, and economic transformation of the German lands from mid-century. They merely differed over how these changes should be interpreted. See David S. Landes, The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present (New York, 1969); Eric Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire (New York, 1968); Hans-Ulrich Wehler, The German Empire 1871-1918, trans. Kim Traynor (New York, 1985); Jurgen Kocka, Industrial Culture and Bourgeois Society: Business, Labor and Bureaucracy in Modern Germany (New York, 1999); Eric Dorn Brose: Technology and Science in the Industrializing Nations 1500-1914 (New Jersey, 1998); Abigail Greene, State-Building and Nationhood in 19th Century Germany (New York, 2001); Konrad Jaurausch, Students, Society and Politics in Imperial Germany: The Rise of Academic Illiberalism (Princeton, NJ, 1982); Fritz Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890-/933 (Hanover, 1990); Frederic J. Schwartz, The Werkbund: Design Theory and. Mass Culture Before the First World War (New Haven, 1996); Karin Kirsch, The Weissenhosiedlung: Experimental Housing Built for the Deutscher Werkbund, Stuttgart. 1927, trans. David Britt (New York, 1989); Werkbund: History and Ideology, ed. Lucius Burkhardt, trans. Pearl Sanders (Woodbury, NY, 1980); Joan Campbell, The German Werkbund The Politics of Reform in the. Applied Arts (Princeton, 1977); August Endell, Vom Sehen: Texte 1896-1925 uber Architektur, Formkunst und "Die Schonheit der grossen Stadt," ed. Helge David (Berlin, 1995); Elizabeth Gumming & Wendy Kaplan, The Arts and Crafts Movement (London, 1991).
(13.) By 1900 some German intellectuals referred to culture as the spirit of an organic civilization like Germany. They contrasted this with French Civilization which simply meant the quickening pace of life in modern society and the practical skills one needed to negotiate it. See Stern, Politics of Cultural Despair, pp. 199 199.
(14.) Mikael Hard, "German regulation: the integration of Modern Technology into Na-tional Culture,"The Intellectual Appropriation of Technology: Discourse on Modernity, 1900 1939, ed. Mikael Hard & Andrew Jamison (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 33-68; Andrew Jamison, "American Anxieties: Technology and the Reshaping of Republican Values," The Intellectual Appropriation of Technology, pp. 69-100.
(15.) In the United States engineers achieved a high status which has persisted to this day relatively smoothly. The so-called "American Dream" assumed that creating wealth in an orderly fashion was a noble goal; it required no further cultural justification and for decades citizens tolerated the ecological damage it created. In Germany it was not enough to simply make money; engineers had to demonstrate that this was done in a civilized and cultivated fashion that improved society. Furthermore, German engineers did not form professional organizations in the same manner as the Americans because the concept did not exist; rather, they modeled themselves after university-educated bureaucrats. This created a rift between those holding college degrees and mote traditional mechanics who often earned higher salaries. When German engineers finally formed a national association, it was dominated by academics such as Franz Grashof who hoped to make the profession as scientific and theoretical as possible in order to put it on a par with chemistry and physics. He wanted status for his constituents as arbiters of technology as the new Bildung for the nation-state. This infuriated entrepreneurs and non-academic engineers who wanted men who could provide practical solutions to industrial problems and make money from Germany's budding capitalist economy. The struggle got so bad that Grashof and the Union of German Engineers (VDI) tried to shut down Germany's nascent technical schools, which forced the government to intervene to protect them. See Gispen, New Profession, Old Order, pp. 2", 4, 6-8, 64-78, 160-172, 187-210; Technik, Ingernierue und Gesellschaft: Geschichte tit's Vereins Deutscher Ingenieure 1856-1981, ed. Karl-Heinz Ludwig (Dusseldorf, 1981).
(16.) Hans-Joachim Braun, "Technial als Kulturhebel und Kukturfaktor: Zum Verhaltnis von Technik und Kultur bei Franz Reuleaux," Technische Intelligenze und " Kulturfaktor Technik'': Kidtinvorsiellungen von Technikern und Ingenieuren wischen Kaiserreich und jriihcr Bundesrefmhiik Leutschiand, ed. Burkhadr Diecz, Michael Fessner, Helmut Maier (Mi'in-ster, 1996), pp. 37-42.
(17.) Kees Gispen, New Profession, Old Order: Engineers and German Society, 1815-1914 (Cambridge, 1989; Gispen, Poems in Steel: National Socialism and the Poltiics of Inventing from Weimar to Bonn (New York, 2002); Guillaume de Syon, Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 1900-1939 (Baltimore, 2002); Joachim Radkau, Technik in Deutschhmd: Vom 18. jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1989).
(18.) Jennifer Jenkins, Provincial Modernity: Local Culture & Liberal Politics in F in-de-Siecle Hamburg (Ithaca, 2003).
(19.) There are similarities with the US case as well. In North America contemporaries increasingly understood technology-is linked with masculinity and the middle, class, but practices of consumption allowed outside voices (including feminine ones) to create their own spaces. Ruth Oldenziel showed that at the beginning of this period inventiveness was not solely linked to machines, so academics assumed that women in primitive societies had invented things like baskets and pottery. As inventing came to be associated with mechanical devices most people no longer saw women as innovative; this label was reserved for male entrepreneurs. Qldensiel saw this as a semantic move from gender-neutral discursive arts to masculine technology dominated by engineers. As engineers increased their status and wealth, formed associations and earned BS degrees this distinction only solidified until by WW1 it was rock-solid. Nonetheless, consumer culture offered opportunities lor marginalized groups to insert themselves info the discourse about technology, masculinity and class. Regina Blazcyk explored the design strategies of glass and porcelain makers and found that engineers and entrepreneurs relied heavily on female fashion intermediaries from the middle-class to figure out what their consumers (mosr of whom were women) wanted. This led to a democratization of consumption as the smartest businessmen settled for slightly lower quality that could be mass-produced for a large audience of working women. See Ruth Oldenziel, Making Technology Masculine: Men, women and Modern Marines in America 1870-1945, (Amsterdam, 1999); Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedlgwood to Corning (Baltimore, 2000 ); Catharina Landstrom, "National. Strategies: The Gendered Appropriation of I Household Technology," 'The Intellectual Appropriation of Technology, pp. 163-178.
(20.) Ulrich Wendt, Die Technik als Kulturmacht in sozialer und geistier Beziehung (Berlin, 1906), pp. 9, 12,284.
(21.) Paul Hildebrandt, Das Spielzeug im Leben des Kindes (Berlin, 1904), pp. 124-125. See also Thomas Mann, "Kinderspiele," Essays. Band J: Fruhlingssturm 1893-1918 (Frankfurt am Main, 1993).
(22.) "Neue Metall-Spielwaren," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 5, 10 October 1909, p. 56.
(23.) "Zur Entwicklung der Spielwarcnindustrie," Rundschau Uhr Spielwaren, No. 1, 1 September 1909, pp. 4-5.
(24.) Frederic J. Schwartz, The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture Before the First World War (New Haven, 1996); Karin Kirsch, The Weissenhofsiedlung: Experimental Housing Built for the Deutscher Werkbund, Stuttgart 1927, trans. David Britt (New York, 1989); Werkbund: History and Ideology, ed. Lucius Burkhardt, trans. Pearl Sanders (Woodbury, NY, 1980); Joan Campbell, The German Werkbind: The Politics of Reform in the Applied Arts (Princeton, 1977); August Endell, Vom Sehen: Texte 1896--1 925 uber Architektur, Formkunst und "Die Schonheit der grossen Stadt," ed. Helge David (Berlin, 1995); Elizabeth Cumming & Wendy Kaplan, The. Arts and Crafts Movement (London, 1991). The artists in the Berlin Secession worried more about creating a useable art for modern life and less about speicfically nationalist prerogatives originally, but they later marketed themselves as a new breed of German artist. See Peter Paret, Berliner Secession (Berlin, 197.3); Robun Jensen, Marketing Modernism in Fin-de-Siecle Europe (Princeton, 1994), pp. 3-17, 167-200. Anna Brunnemann, "Neues Dresdner Spielzeug," Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, No. 3187, 28 July 1904, pp. 142-143.
(25.) There is now a large, interdisciplinary literature on the way that hegemonic discourses make possible and even invite opportunities for subversion. See Aihwa Ong, Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality (Durham, 1999); Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham, 1993); James Clifford, The Predicament af Culture: Twentieth-Century; Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA, 1988); The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge, 1999).
(26.) Urs Latus, Kunststucke: Holzspielzeugdesign vor (9/4 (Nurnberg, 1998), pp. 27-40; The Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, 1890-1940 (London, 1978), pp. 198-230. Sec also Sabine Remele, Kathe Kruse: Leben und Werk (Weingarten, 1984) pp. 14, 4.3-45; "JJ lustrirte Rundschau," Velhagen & Klisings Monatshefte, XXVI:1 (December 1911): 639-640; Georg Queri, "Die Wiege des Teddy-Baren," Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, No. 3561, 28 September 1911, pp. 533-536; Georg Queri, "Lieber, Lieber Weihnachtsmann!" Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, No. 367.3, 20 November 1913.
(27.) "Nene Spielsachen," Kind und Kunst, 11:3 (December 1905), p. 99.
(28.) F. Herrigel, "Die padagogische Bedeutung des Spiels," Neue Biatler aus Suddeutschland fur Erziehung und Unterricht (1906), p. 216 in Retter, Spielzeug, p. 139.
(29.) A. W Grube, Van der sittlichen Bildung der Jugend im l. Jahrzent des l.ebens (Leipzig, 1855) p. 241
(30.) F. Dusel, "Von Spiel und Spielzeug." Westermanns Monatshefte, (1906): 588.
(31.) "Dresdner Spielzeug," Leipziger Illustirte Zeitung, No. 3363, 12 December 1907; "Ilustrirte Rundsehau," Velhagen & Klasing Monarshefte, XXV: 1 (Dec 1910). pp. 6)7-640; See also Paul Georg Munch, "Das Kind und der Weihnachtsmarkt," Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, No. 4088, 1922, p. 482: Industry has brought things to the Christmas market that stimulate a child's fantasy and keep them busy in an intellectually stimulating fashion; I mention simply the building blocks made out of wood and metal. When more technological toys lay on the floor two days after Christmas in the same condition they stood on Christmas Eve [because the child is tired of them] then they have no value."
(32.) "Kinderspielzeug," Vossische Zeitung, No. 571, 9 December 1 904.
(33.) Otto Sindaco, "Die Kunst im Leben des Kindes," Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, 1:9 (1906), p. 73
(34.) Alexander Koch, "Die Kunst im Leben des Kindes," Kavi und Kunst: Illustrierte Monatsschrift fur die Pflege der Kunst im Leben des Kindes, 1:1 (October 1904): i.
(35.) Konrad Lange, "Kunst und Spiel in ihrer erzieherischen Bedeutung," Kind und Kunst, 1:1 (October 1904): 2, 4.
(36.) Lange, Die kunstlerische Erziehung der deutschen Jugend, pp. 31-34. See also Paul Georg Munch, "Das Kind und der Weihnachtsmark," Leipziger Illustrirte Zeitung, No. 4088, 1922, p. 482 "The child's Christmas table shouldn't carry a sign that says: Care-full Breakable! 9-year-old Fritz wanted a steam engine. He has no idea how steam power works . . . but he gets [one]. Father, mother and servants watch on Christmas Eve to make sure that he doesn't play too violently with it. During the party the boy has to sit by patiently until some expert can be found to turn the thing on. 'Good God, stand back! What if it explodes! Just put it in the closet.' That is the Christmas fate of I Hans' steam engine ... what gifts should one give to children? We want to celebrate Christmas the same way our fathers did."
(37.) Lili Droescher, Die Kunst im Leben des Kindes (Berim, 1902), p. 171.
(38.) Marion Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family and Identity in Imperial Germany (New York, 1991).
(39.) Wolfgang Schivelbusch, The Railway Journey: Trains and Travel in the Nineteenth Century, trans, Anselm Hollo (Oxford, 1979).
(40.) "Das Weihnachtspielzeug und die moderne Technik," Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung, No. 24, 18 December 1911, p. 759; Paul Hildebrandt, Das Spielzeug im Leben des Kindes (Berlin), pp. 130-140.
(41.) Ernst Plank founded the company in 1866 in Nuremberg to make optical toys such as Laterna Magicae and special electric apparatus. The firm expanded into toy trains in 1882, actually exhibiting an electric locomotive that aroused a great deal of interest but was too expensive to market. The company employed 120 people in 1894.
(42.) Reder, Mit Uhrwerk, Dampf und Strom: Vom Spieizeug zur Modelleisenbahn (Dussel-dorf, 1988), pp. 32-36.
(43.) Ernst Planck "has again presented us with very attractive innovations of which we will mention. only the trains with electric motors ... that attracted numerous onlookers once the sound of the train running let everyone know the electric motor set it in motion. "Bayerische Landes-, Gewerbe-, Industrie- und Kunst-Ausstelling," Illustrirte Zeitung fur Blechwarenindustrie, 1882.
(44.) Reder, Mit Uhrwerk, Dampf und Strom: Vom Spielzeug zur Modelleisenbahn (Dussel-dorf, 1988), pp. 35-38.
(45.) "The Toy Industry of Nuremberg," Scientific American Supplement, No. 209 (4 March 1899): 19382.
(46.) WolfKaiser & Carlernst J. Baecker, Blechspielzeug Dampfspielzeug (Munchen, 1989),p. 7.
(47.) Hanns von Spielberg, "Mechanisches Spielzeug," Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte, XVII:4 (December 1902): 482-483.
(48.) Asa Briggs, Iron Bridge to Crystal Palace: Impact and Images of the Industrial Revolution (London, 1979); Lothar Bucher, Kulturhistorische Skizzen aus der Industrieausstellung alter Volker (Frankfurt a. M., 1851); Bertrand Lemoine, Gustave Eiffel (Basel, 1988), p. 90. Bucher and Lemoine quoted in Helmut Schwarz, "Gross and klein: lngenieurkunst aus Jem Baukasten," Eisenzeit: Geschichte des Metalbaukastens (Nurnberg, 1995), pp. 9-19.
(49.) London architect R. D. Hansom explained, "[your toys] represent the most successful attempt to unify entertainment and education for children and adults that I have seen. The color, solidity and mathematical exactitude are impressive ... without doubt Anchar building blocks educate regarding good taste, invention and innovation." A Zurich professor wrote in after watching his son play with building blocks, "one could even say that [the blocks] offer more room for innovation and creation than is available to a real architect . . . the building block man must keep a more complicated set of factors in mind because he has no nails, pins or clips to hold his structure together with." Illustrirte Zeitung, No, 2472, 1 5 November 1890, p. 550.
(50.) Eckart Kehr, Primat der Innenpolitik (Economic Interest, Militarism and Foreign Policy: Essays on Germany History), trans. Grete Heinz, ed. Gordon Craig (Berkeley, 1977); Paul Kennedy, The rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, 1860-1914 (Boston, 1980); Kennedy, Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (New York, 1976); Gustav Prodi, "Das Entstehen und Werden der Modelldampfschiffe," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, 20 May 1912, p. 1935-1936; "Neuc Metall-Spielwaren," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 5, 10 October 1909, p. 56; Frank Hornby, The Life Story of Meccano (London, 1976), quoted in Helmut Schwarz, "Gross und klein: lngenieurkunst aus dem Baukasten," Eisenzeit: Geschichte des Metal-bauhistens (Nurnberg, 1995), pp. 21-22; "Mecanno," Wegweiser fur die Spielwarenindustrie, No. 652, 1914, p. 76; Helmut Schwarz, "Gross und klein; lngenieurkunst aus dem Baukasten," Eisenzeit: Geschichte des Metalbaukastens (Nurnberg, 1995), pp. 44-4-5. Copying oilier peoples' ideas worked for other German toy firms as well. In 1913 AC Gilbert Co. in New Haven, CN introduced the brand Erector to the American market, the name by which also such metal building sets are known in the US to this day. Gilbert's US patent had no force in Germany, so Richter simply copied it. Renaming it Imperator, the company successfully marketed it in Germany because high tariff prices kept out American imports. In Nuremberg, Bing reintroduced erector sets to the market at Structator also in 191 3. Finally, Gbr. Wundes Unionwerk in Solingen brought out Formator in 1913 to complete the initial German copies of Erector. Right down to the names, Formator, Structator and Imperator copied erector sets and claimed to teach engineering and building skills to young boys. These miniatures existed in a nationalist framework because Bing, Richter and Gbr. Wundes Unionwerk could only market them in Germany because of patent problems.
(51.) Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York, 1975 ); Jay Winter, Remembering War: The Great War Between Memory and I History in the Twentieth Century (New Haven, 2006).
(52.) Memoirs are problematic sources of history because they telescope present concerns onto the past. Nevertheless, they are certainly valuable in indicating the likely way children viewed their toys. See Susan Stewart, On Longing; Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (Durham, 199.3); Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memeory, trans. Lewis A. Coser (Chicago, 1992); Halbwachs, The Collective Memory, trans. Francis Ditter & Vida Ditter (New York, 1980); Pierre Nora, "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire," Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 7-25; Stewart Sherman, Telling Time: Clock Diaries and English Diurnal Form 1 660-1785 (Chicago, 1996); Susan Crane, "Writing the Individual Back into Collective Memory," American Historical Review, 102:5 (Dec 1997): 1372-1385; Reinhart Kosseleck, Futures Past: On the Semantic of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, 1985); Pat Boerner, Tage-buch (Stuttgart, 1969); Thomas Mallon, A Book of One's Own: Pepople and Their Diaries (New York, 1984); Robert A. Fothergill, Private Chronicles: A Study of English Diaries (New York, 1974).
(53.) Hans von Spielberg, "Mechanisches Spielzeug," Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte, XVI1:4 (December 1902): 476-477, 481.
(54.) Hermann Oberth, "Weltraumexperimente in der Badewanne," Kindheit in der Kaiser-reich: Erinnerungen an vergangene Zeiten, ed. Rudolf Partner (Dusseldorf, 1987), p. 56.
(55.) Gunther Grassmann, "Man liebte russische Literatur und furchtete die russische Dampfwalze," Kindheit im Kaiserreich, p. 142.
(56.) Willi Schafferdiek, "Der Krieg began mit Glockengelaut," Johann Baptist Gradl, "Als Kreuzberg noch kaiserlich war," Kindheit im Kaiserreich, p. 197, 218.
(57.) Karl Kurt Doberer, "Der Pfennig war das Mark der Wahrung," Kindheit im Kaiserreich, p. 224; K. K. Doberer, Ruf der Sterne (Niirnberg, 1968) pp. 8, 66-67; Kurt. K. Doberer, Sinn und Zukunft der Automation (Frankfurt a. M., 1958).
(58.) Wenebrik, No. 1, c. 1914, William Bailey, Ltd, Birmingham; Metallbaukasten Industrie, c. 1919-1931, Joef Falk, Nurnberg; mobilo, c. 1922, Mobilo, Paris; Stabil Metall-baukasten: Vorlagenbuch no. 53-55, Walther & Co, Berlin 1921; Maria Ziegler, Versuche uber den Unterschied 12-I3jahriger Knaben und Madchen beim Bauen: Examensarbeit am Pyschologischen Institut der Universitat Leipzig (Leipzig, 1933/1934), pp. 43-47. Quoted in Marion Faber, "Stahl und Wolle: Metallbaukasten--nichts fur Madchen," Eisenzeit: Geschichte des Metallbaukastens, pp. 159-164.
(59.) Marion A. Kaplan, The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family, and Identity, in Imperial Germany (New York, 1991).
(60.) Hildebrandt, Das Spielzeug im Leben des Kindes, pp. 116-121.
(61.) "Neue Metall-Spielwaren," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 5, 10 October 1909, p. 56.
(62.) Marrklin--Hauptkatalog von 1895: Abtheilung I. Einrichrungs-Gegerisiande. fur Kinder-Kitchen etc, pp 81-103; Ullmann & Engelmann sold complete China sets from 2 Marks to 30 Marks along with functioning gas stoves that started for as little as 7 Marks and went up to 50 Marks. See "Ullmann 6k Engelmann, Furth, Internationaler Katalog um 1900," Die Anderen Nurnberger: Technisches Spielzeug aus der "Guten Alien Zeit," ed. Carlernst Baecker, Dieter Haas, Christian Vaterlein (Frankfurt a. M., 1981), pp. 2614-2618.
(63.) Marie Leske, Illustrirtes Spielbuch furMadchen: unterhaUendeimdanregendeBelusugim-gen, Spiele und Beschaftigungen fur Korper und Geist, im Freien sowie im Zimmer (Leipzig, 1897), pp. 36-38; Margarete Flecken, Arbeiterkinder im 19- Jahrhundert: Eine sozialge-schkhtlkhe Untersuchung ihrer Lebenswelt (Basel), pp. 147-151; "Wir Kinder hatten einherrliches Leben ... " Judische Kindheit und Jugend im Kaiserreich 1871--1918, Hg. Ursula Blomer & Detlef Garz (Oldenburg, 2000).
(64).Clara Zinn, Kinderspiel und Spielzeug (Berlin, 1910), p. 22
(65). Abigail Green, Fatherlands: State Building and Nationhood in, Nineteenth-Century Germany Germany (Cambridge, 2001); Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, 1990); Alon Confino, The Nation as a Local Metaphor: Wurttemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871-1918 (Chapel Hill, 1997).
(66).Urs Latus, Kunststucke: Holzdpielzeugdesign vor 1914 (Nurnberg, 1998) p. 150.
(67). "Dresdner Spielzeug," Illustrirte Zeitung, Nr. 5363, .1 2 December 1907.
(68). "Neues Dresdner Spielzeug," lllustrirte Zeitung, Nr. 3187, 28 July 904, p. 142.
(69). Kind und Kunst took issue with the fact that children needed to he turned into purely rational thinkers. Alexander Koch wrote "whoever has observed children, whether it be in illusionary play with an umbrella or a block of wood ... will understand the value ... of the Dresden toys." He claimed they allowed children to develop themselves on their own terms, as opposed to training them in ways adults saw fit. See "Dresdner Spielzeug," Kind und Kunst, No 1 (October 1904): 31.
(70). Kathe Kruse, Ich und meine Puppen (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1982), pp. 1 1-21, 3b 5 3: Sabine Reinelt, Kathe Kruse: Leben und Werk (Weingarten, 1984), pp. 15-25; Boehn, Dolls and Puppets, pp. 184-186; Droscher, Die grosse Puppenwelt, pp. 174-176.
(71). Kruse, Ich und Meine Puppen, pp. 81 -8.3.
(72). Kruse, Wie das so kam, 1956 quoted in Reinelt, Kathe Kruse: Leben und Werk, pp. 42-43; Kruse, Ich und meine Puppen, p. 124.
(73). In this article 1 do not consider Margarete Steiff's stuffed animals to be reform dolls. This is because they were factory produced, she was not an entrepreneur (her nephews ran the firm and used her as a marketing tool), and the company's most famous product, the teddy hear, was not a toy that directly impacted the debate about technology (although it has interesting connotations about masculinity in the form of Teddy Roo-sevelt). See Jurgen & Marianne Cieslik, Knopf im Ohr: Die Geschichte des Teddybaren und seiner Freunde (Julich 1989); Sabine Volker-Kraemer, Wie ich zur Teddymutter wurde: Das Leben der Margarete Steiff nach ihren eigenen Aufzeichnungen (Stuttgart, 1996); Theodor Ling, "Der Teddy-Bar," Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung, No. 12, 1 June 1914, p. 11.
(74). Konrad Lange, "Kunst und Spiel und ihrer erzieherischen Beduetung," Kind und Kunst, No. I, (October 1904): 4, 7.
(75). "Modelspiele und Reklame," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 49, 10 January 1911, p. 6.31; "Moderne Mittel zur Vereinfachung und Verbesserung der Schreibarbeit," Deutsche. Spielwarenzeitung, Nr. 2, 15 January 1913, p. 9.
(76). Gotz Dohler, "Der Spielwarenfabrikant als Erzieher," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 17, 10 February 1910, p. 201; "Zeichenunterricht und Spielwarenherstellung," Weg-ueiser fur die Spielwarenindustrie,, No. 2, .30 January 1918, p. 5; "Mechanische Spielwaren," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 1 3, 1 January 1910, p. 1 53; "Der Humor in Spielzeug,'' Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 34, I August 1910, p. 439; Max Schneider, "Ueber dem geistigen Wcrt des Spielzeugs," Deutsche Spielwarenzeitung No. 3, 1 September 1909, pp. 37-39.
(77). Gustav A. Prodi, "Weihnachten," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 48, 20 December 1910, p. 615; "Der Naturalismus in der Spielwarenindustrie," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 2, 10 September 1909, p. 20.
(78). Erich Wulf, "Wandlungen der Puppen: Der neue Typ--von der Kunstlerpuppe zur gemassigten Charakterpuppe--Das Baby," Berliner Tageblatt, 25 January 1914 reproduced in Droscher, Die grosse Puppenwelt, pp. 58-59.
(79). Reinelt, Kathe Kruse: Leben und Werk, pp. 48- 49; Droscher, Die Crowe Puppenwelt, pp. 174-176.
(80). Aus der Puppenwelt," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 98, 20 May 1912, p. 1397. Something similar happened to Steiff dolls. A Berlin director animated them in a movie, reinserting them into the technological theme of the ethic of play without altering their
physical form. See "Steiff-Puppen als Kino Film (ein neuartige Reklame)," Rundschau uber Spielwaren, No. 96, 1 May 1912, p. 1369.
(81). Miriam Formanek-Brunell, Made to Play House: Dolls and the Commercialization of American Girlhood, 1830-1930 (Baltimore, 1998), pp. 1-5; Formanek-Brunell, "The Politics of Doll Play in Nineteenth-Century America," Small Worlds: Children & Adolescents in America, 1850-1950, ed. Elliot West & Paula Petrik (Lawrence, KS, 1992), pp. 107-109; Sabine Reinelt, Kathe Kruse: Leben und Werk (Weingarten, 1984), pp. 40-42. 42. Forman-Brunell's account of the relationship of toys and consumer culture to power is much more compelling than similar work by Gary Cross who argues that toys have become divorced from reality since the 1940s and no longer educate children into valuable civil and technological knowledge. The reality is that the good old days of toys nurturing children into engineers and chemists is largely a myth; miniatures have always been hotly debated terrain. See Gary Cross, Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood (Cambridge, 1997).
(82). Cross, Kids' Stuff; Jenkins, Provincial Modernity; Hamlin, Work at Play, pp. 183-214.
By Bryan Ganaway
College of Charleston
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||SECTION II CHILDREN AND CHILDHOOD|
|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2008|
|Previous Article:||"Infantile specimens": showing babies in nineteenth-century America.|
|Next Article:||Children and their educators: changing relations in a meritocratizing world.|