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Spinning Tops & Gumdrops

  • $45.00 
  • (quantity currently in stock: 5)
  •  Spinning Tops & Gumdrops
    Title: Spinning Tops & Gumdrops
    Format: PAPERBACK
    Publication date: 01/03/2018
    Price: $45.00
    Publishing status: Active

    Spinning Tops & Gumdrops captures a time when ‘imagination, skill, and daring’ was the source of
    children’s play. Quoits and jacks, hide and seek,
    cricket with a kerosene tin for a wicket, dress ups and charades, can all be
    seen in these appealing images. Children climb trees, run races, and build
    rafts to sail on the local waterhole, happily absorbed in the play of their own

    This was also a time when school yard disagreements
    were sorted out with fists and ‘the loss of a little claret’. A time when children could view public
    hangings, and premature death was frequent, especially taking the very young
    and vulnerable though dysentery, whooping cough, or diphtheria. The word
    ‘mollycoddled’ has its origins in the mid-nineteenth century, but
    certainly cannot be applied to the colonial children depicted in Spinning Tops & Gumdrops.

    Children were often required to work — many at
    adult jobs — to the neglect of their education, and photographs show children
    taking part in rural life, tending animals, milking, and harvesting crops. In
    the cities, too, we see factories using cheap child labour to satisfy the
    increasing demand for mass produced shoes and clothes, to bake bread, and to
    process food. Many youngsters found
    themselves ‘in service’ to the growing middle class. One story is told of an
    innovative girl who earned pocket money by collecting leeches for the local

    There were
    distinctive gender roles in colonial Australia, and associated dress
    conventions. As a practical solution to ease toilet training, boys generally
    wore dresses until five or six years of age, seen in the photographs shown
    here. Only then they were ‘breeched’ that is, put into breeches. Meanwhile,
    girls’ dresses became longer as they approached womanhood, coinciding with a
    greater emphasis on modest behaviour and a reshaping of their activity and
    education to gain home-making skills.

    The lasting impression left by the
    contemporary accounts, photographs, etchings, and paintings of colonial children in Spinning Tops & Gumdrops is their
    possession of qualities of resilience, self-sufficiency, and acceptance of their
    lot. Perhaps it was through lack of choice, or of knowing no other. Nevertheless,
    these were qualities that put them in good stead for the challenges many faced
    in their adulthood. Interestingly, these are qualities on which contemporary
    society still places a high value, but which today seem a little more elusive.

    ISBN: 9780642279187
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