Everyone had someone special when they were a young child. Perhaps it was a precious teddy bear, special blanket, or a doll you were attached to. Whoever it was, they were very close to you and very well loved. Here at the Andover Historical Society, we have many special friends from children, including dolls and stuffed animals, as well as other children’s toys. This week’s Exhibit Highlight Object is on display now in our “Common Indecency” exhibit, and it is sure to evoke warm and cozy memories from your youth.
The object for this week is a stuffed dog, who is well worn but certainly loved. The dog is the perfect size for a child to cuddle with, and he has a red nose and an adorable curled tail. The dog is made of wool, with a crocheted cover that is badly worn and torn. His floppy ears are also crocheted, not stuffed. Certainly not in the best shape, but this dog was obviously special to someone.
The stuffed dog was donated to the Historical Society with a collection of other children’s clothes and toys by Louise Coffin Downes in October 1996. Louise lived in a very old and darling Andover house known as Rose Cottage located at 2 Chestnut Street. The house was built in the early 1800’s, and was used as everything from a church rectory to a tea room. When Ms. Downes bought the house in 1949, her mother, Mrs. Fletcher Coffin, helped restore the house to its original state.
Made circa 1900, the dog was from an era where the variety of children’s toys was rapidly expanding. In the 1800’s, toys were fairly simple, and things like blocks and dolls were very popular. When the “teddy bear” was invented in the early 1900’s, children’s toys were becoming more interesting and complex. At the time our dog was made, popular toys included dolls, tin cars, teddy bears, building blocks, and a building kit called Meccano which included wheels, metal plates, and nuts and bolts.
The dog on display now has probably seen and been loved by many children, and although its days of cuddling may be over, its days of being loved are not. On display now, it is enjoying its visitors as it once again sees people appreciating it for the wonderful toy that it is.