Scary Dangerous Old Toy Stoves

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Nov. 28 2012 7:30 AM

When Kids (Literally) Played With Fire

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Little misses in the first decades of the twentieth century were expected to learn how to cook for a household, so they needed something to practice on—something real. The Queen, a cast-iron and tin baby stove from 1915, burned coals or wood in its belly, while this lime-green metal toy stove from 1930 plugged into the wall. Both stoves had open burners, just like Mom’s.

These miniature stoves, part of a big collection of housekeeping toys at the Strong National Museum of Play, are relics of a sweet spot in history: Children were special enough to merit the production of tiny play versions of everyday objects, but parents hadn’t yet begun to worry obsessively over their everyday safety.

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Production on tiny stoves ceased during WWII, as materials became scarce. By the time the Easy-Bake Oven, which used a lightbulb as a heat source, came out in 1963, the era of easy access to hot coals was over.

antique toy stove

Online Collections, The Strong National Museum of Play. Object ID 112.135; gift of Margaret Zanghi in memory of Magdalena Lahm Belanger.

greenstove

Online Collections, The Strong National Museum of Play. Object ID 91.458; manufactured by Metal Ware Corp., Two Rivers, WI.

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