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Registration Number: H48336

Name or Title: Toy - Noah's Ark

Classification: CH classification TOYS General farm models
CH classification RELIGIONS Christian
CH classification RELIGIONS Jewish
CH classification TOYS Mobile boat

Brief Description: Painted, wooden Noah's Ark toy. Boat base with pitched roof cottage on top. Roof hinges to reveal figurines. Nine human figurines, twenty-four pairs and six singular animals, seventeen pairs of birds and two pairs of insects. All handpainted

Collection: Social History

Materials: Wood, paint, leather (on ark), metal (on ark) and glue (on ark)

Measurement : Ark - L321 x W78 x H161 mm
Figures - various dimensions.

History and Use: Noah’s Ark toys were among the most popular toys of the 19th century in Europe and America. Toys with a Biblical or moral theme were known as ‘Sunday’ toys as children, especially in strict religious households, were only allowed to play with them on Sundays. This was during a time when religious families frowned upon the idea of playing with toys or having fun on the day of Sabbath. The purpose of the Noah’s ark was instructional rather than recreational. Arks were most commonly made of timber but were also made using straw and were either flat-bottomed or boat-bottomed.

This Noah’s Ark is an example of a boat-bottomed type. The toy comprises of a wooden model boat with a hinged lid and 101 figurines including people and both pairs of, and singular animals, birds and insects; the figurines are stored inside the boat. The boat and carved figurines have original, hand-painted decoration and paintwork.

It is believed this Noah’s Ark was made in Germany which was the centre of toy ark-making during the nineteenth century. Ark-making was a cottage industry particularly in the Erzgebirge region where some families or small factories specialised in producing certain animals, carving or painting the figurines.

The Ark was brought to Australia in 1950, when the Southgate family immigrated to Brisbane, Queensland from England. Like many migrants, the family brought few possessions with them and the Noah’s Ark toy was the most important item they owned having been passed down through the family from eldest child to eldest child for several generations.

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