Did you have a favorite toy growing up? Many of us did, and perhaps one such toy was a pull toy. If this was your toy then you might remember taking walks or going on grand adventures with it!
Pull toys have been around for thousands of years. The inventor of such toys is not really known, but they were probably made by someone close to the child the toy was given. Materials used to make these toys range from wood, lead, clay and even ivory. Today these toys are mostly made of plastic or have a stuffed animal attached, but they use the same principles to make the toys work. For pull toys a string is attached to the front of the toy which when pulled, allows the toy to roll on its wheels. For other types of string toys, the string is connected in such a way that when pulled, various pieces of the toy move. The Victoria and Albert Museum has an example of a chicken that when the string is pulled it flaps its wings.
Horses and carts were popular pull toys in the Middle Ages and by the late 18th, early 19th
Centuries pull toys in the shapes of other animals like dogs, sheep, and ducks had become popular. These types of toys were enjoyed by children in all states. The Kansas Historical Society has a plush donkey pull toy that was made by Margarete Steiff and given to Herbert Huff, both of whom were in wheelchairs. Margarete Steiff started her own company in 1870 that continues today. They make toys of all kinds, including pull toys. The New York Historical Society Museum & Library has a pull toy of a dog made around 1860-1890, among others in their collection. Fisher Price, a well-known pull toy maker throughout the world, made their wooden pull toys from 1930-1970. Many of these featured old Disney characters, animals, and objects like fire trucks. Around 1970 plastic replaced wood and many of the pull toys made today from Fisher Price are made of plastic.
Here at the High Plains Museum we have four pull toys in our collection. The picture on the top left shows three toys; from left to right, is a plastic turtle from 1946, a wooden mouse and a wooden dog. The picture on the top right shows a wooden elephant and all four toys came from Mervin Gulick. The picture on the left shows a yellow and red pull toy, and the picture on the bottom right shows a wooden toy elephant on wheels, 4” by 6” painted red. This toy was in Dr. Gulick’s office for children to play with while waiting.
Pull toys have been around for thousands of years and are still toys children enjoy playing
with. They come in a variety of shapes, forms, and colors and can be played with by all. Did you have a pull toy growing up? Please share your memories in the comments section below.
Look for more posts in this series about our wonderful collection of Sherman County history.