These toy North American Indians were mostly made by the famous English firm, Britains Ltd, the world's leading toy model manufacturer for over 60 years. Britains made not only several thousand different sets of cavalry, infantry and militia from many countries, but also farm animals and workers, circuses and zoos, and cowboys and Indians.
The inclusion of cowboys and Indians in the company's range came about in 1913 and 1908 respectively, with the onset of moving pictures. Before the advent of television in Australia in 1956, many children made weekly trips to the cinema where the program included American films and serials with cowboys and Indians. The serials were left in a 'cliff hanger' situation to ensure a return visit the following week. Consequently, cowboys and Indians became a prominent feature of children's games. The influence and popularity of the American Wild West saw it continue to spread into our popular culture via radio and later television not through only toy model cowboys and Indians but also through toy guns, bows and arrows, dress ups, and tents.
The toy Indians were owned by the donor and used by him in Hobart, Tasmania, from about 1935 to 1942.They are part of a small collection of toys used by members of the Wyatt family in Hobart, Tasmania and Roseville, NSW from 1935 until 1965. The toys were made in Britain, Germany and Australia, and are representative of the types available to Australian children at the time. They are significant in that they have remained in the one family and have been extremely well looked after, many in their original boxes with the instruction leaflets and information.
Curator, Science & Industry