All present – but not ter­ri­bly cor­rect

From an age be­fore po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, a trea­sure trove of toys and games stirs a few mixed emo­tions

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS - PIC­TURES: GARY LONG­BOT­TOM. DAVID BEHRENS COUNTY COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: [email protected] ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

IN A week in which the bet­ting in­dus­try is be­ing pres­sured to clean up its act, the toys of Christ­mases past might set off a few alarm bells at the Gam­bling Com­mis­sion.

The ar­chive of the Leeds man­u­fac­turer John Wadding­ton in­cludes not only horse racing game To­topoly, but also a di­ver­sion for nine-year-olds up­wards called Lose Your Shirt.

Even less po­lit­i­cally cor­rectly, the col­lec­tion also takes in a lo­cally-pro­duced, early card game called Strip­tease.

The Wadding­ton mer­chan­dise, pro­duced at fac­to­ries on Kirk­stall Road and in Hun­slet, is held by Leeds City Mu­se­ums, and a range of games goes on dis­play to­day at the Tu­dor-Ja­cobean Tem­ple Newsam House, east of the city.

Among them is Ca­reers, a 1960s board game in which chil­dren and their par­ents col­lected points for fame, wealth and hap­pi­ness in their pur­suit of vo­ca­tions such as ura­nium min­ing and go­ing to sea.

“Games like these have a spe­cial kind of evoca­tive power,” said the cu­ra­tor, Leila Prescott.

The ex­hi­bi­tion takes in the whole gamut of toys, from a diecast Corgi model of an E-Type Jaguar to a 1976 Bionic Cri­sis Game from the TV se­ries Six

Mil­lion Dol­lar Man, which Ms Prescott, who was eight at the time, named as her favourite.

It also in­cludes an ear­lier gen­er­a­tion of play­things, with a painted Vic­to­rian rock­ing horse and a porce­lain dolls’ tea set from the 1930s that sits com­fort­ably with the decor of a grand house.

“Each of these toys will have meant some­thing spe­cial to their owner. Ev­ery­one who has seen them has been sent on a flight of rec­ol­lec­tion,” Ms Prescott said.

“The fur­ther you go back, the sim­pler the toys be­come. One is just a piece of wood with nine pins that you have to knock over with a ball at­tached to a string.

“Even the early elec­tronic games, like Pong, seem very dated now.”

The Wadding­ton col­lec­tion, part of which is on loan to Tem­ple Newsam House, with other items dis­played at the Abbey House and City Mu­se­ums and at the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre at Leeds Dock, dates back to the 1890s, when the com­pany be­gan mak­ing play­ing cards and other di­ver­sions in the city. Later, it ac­quired the UK rights to the Amer­i­can Mo­nop­oly, and li­cenced the Cluedo game to them in re­turn. Kitty Ross, the city’s his­tory cu­ra­tor, said not all of the firm’s out­put – es­pe­cially its junior jig­saw puz­zle of “Willy Wood­pecker with gay de­signs” – would sit com­fort­ably un­der a Christ­mas tree to­day.

“To­topoly took longer to play than Mo­nop­oly and it was based en­tirely on race­track bet­ting,” Ms Ross said.

“You couldn’t con­ceive of such a thing to­day. And Lose Your Shirt sounds like an in­vi­ta­tion to gam­ble.

“There was also a game called Car­lette, which was part cards and part roulette.”

The Christ­mas ex­hi­bi­tion at Tem­ple Newsam runs un­til De­cem­ber 23.

Games like these have a spe­cial kind of evoca­tive power. John Wadding­ton col­lec­tion cu­ra­tor Leila Prescot.

TOY STO­RIES: Left, Daisy, two, with mother Shel­ley Dring, with a Vic­to­rian rock­ing horse at Tem­ple Newsam House; above, cu­ra­tor Leila Prescot with a Chad Val­ley car; be­low, a Block­busters game; in­set be­low, a tin plate carousel.

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