Toys aren't just for kids. Let's face it, have you ever watched a parent playing with a child's new toy? Whether it's a racing car set, a doll's house or a board game, many parents seem to like new toys better than their kids.
Don't even get me started on all those dads (and mums) who hang around exhibitions of model trains, or penny arcade games like you will find at the delightful Archer's Arcadia exhibitions. If a child gets a little drone for a birthday present, then guess who will be out flying it an hour later?
Bisque Doll ca 1890 at the Toys Exhibition (Image: State Library)
Then there are vintage toys - old toys from the past including tin toys, Boomaroo toys, Triang trains, Meccano sets, clockwork toys and even wind up dolls. I was reminiscing recently with my brothers about metal pedal cars that we owned as kids. Being a large family of baby boomers, the pedal cars started life with the older kids and then gravitated down to the younger children over time. Those pedal cars would be worth a fortune by now.
Play: Objects of play from the State Library of South Australia's collections is the name of the latest free exhibition to grace the Treasures Wall at the State Library. My assignment was to write an article about it, but on the way I was distracted by another of the exhibits - the free Digital Arcade for the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
The Jolly Book, London 1928 (Image: State Library)
Don't miss those free things to do in the Institute building, be sure to call in if you're on the way to see the vintage toys, old board games, and cultural stories from the State Library's Children's Literature Research Collection.
To be honest I visited the exhibition thinking it might be a bit ho-hum. I'm well past the age of playing with toys (apart from drones and my camera), but it didn't take me long to get enthusiastically entranced.
Perhaps what caught my eye first were the tin toys. We didn't have many old toys back in the day, but the tin toys probably lasted the longest. Except when my older brother wanted to learn how clockwork toys work. One of the best survivors was a tin toy typewriter - the Mettoy Minor, which actually worked. Of course it didn't have working keys, but it did have a ribbon, and a rotating knob to select letters, producing a reasonable result.
Tin Toys - Mettoy Minor Typewriter (Image: Recycled Relix)
I can't remember writing to Sir Thomas Playford, or even Premier Frank Walsh, but that tin toy typewriter instantly recalled childhood memories for me when I saw it at the State Library Treasures Wall.
While I didn't find any Triang trains, Meccano or Scalextric slot cars, there are plenty of other vintage toys on display that kids have used over the decades. A Jack-in-the-box, Brownie box camera, clockwork music box and even a Multiphone are all on display at the library.
Tin Toys - 19th Century Clockwork Toy Beetle (Image: State Library)
Of course children's story books are represented too: Doctor Dolittle books, The World's Railways, Robinson Carusoe, and a Book of Noble Knights. No Enid Blyton or Biggles books in sight though!
The avid comic collector will thrill to the sight of original Superman comic books, and Black Panther comics by Marvel. Younger readers will relate better to a Bob the Builder book, Empire Strikes Back comics, and a Yoda figurine on display. Indigenous toys, Russian dolls, balls, and a plethora of playthings make this free exhibition on the Treasures Wall one of the fun things to do that the whole family can enjoy.
Play: Objects of play from the State Library of South Australia's collections is not just about memories. You can find fun things to do for kids here with some toys available for children to use. Try playing universal games like Cat's Cradle, a child's tea set, spinning tops, or let the kids play with a cuddly toy. See if you can Pin the Tail on the Donkey, take a Motor Ride or solve the Kopfzerbrecher Anchor Puzzle, one for more cerebral players - if you can pronounce the name.
This free exhibition is well worth a visit. You can find more about Play: Objects of play from the State Library of South Australia's collections on the library website, but why not just come - and play!