Children’s play

21 May 2021


Playing outside is something we have known since the beginning of mankind.
Many games, which can be found on artisan tiles, even existed in ancient Greece. We know this through finds, such as natural stone marbles and bronze knuckle bones, Terra cotta tops from Thebes Greece and dolls with movable arms from the Greek and Roman times. Followed by a period when less was found, probably because they where made by less well-preserved materials, such as wooden tops and the like that are susceptible to woodworm.

Later woodcutting’s were found with children’s games such as those of Jean (2nd) Leclerc ca 1580, followed by prints made by copper engravings. The latter often contained not only a picture but also an attached learning text.

A nice fact is that around the 16th and 17th century the images mainly had an educational function (in addition to their decorative added value) and for that reason they were always placed at the bottom of the paneling so that the child could see it well!

Characteristic of this time is that the child was seen as a mini-adult and playing was considered a useless activity. This is also reflected in the paintings, the children often wear the clothing as if it were an adult and it is therefore sometimes difficult to estimate the age, this can be seen, for example, in top hats.

The educational purpose was mainly to explain the stages of life of man “steps aging” and often formed part of a larger whole, such as daily performances.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, several new tile series were developed especially for the children’s games, including beautiful designs by Van Hulst from Harlingen

Until 1900, the children’s games are almost always depicted in blue. However, there are also known variations with manganese. It was not until the 20th century that polychrome (multicolored) really made its appearance, within the theme of children’s play tiles.

The tiles were often made to the standard size of 13×13, but smaller tiles are also known. Until the mid-17th century and later, ox heads were replaced or completely omitted by a spider’s head as corners. Sometimes the children playing were placed in a circle, which framed the whole beautifully.

These children’s games are beautifully displayed on the attached images of authentic tiles, such as: jumping rope, hopscotch, pasterns, spinning tops, hobby horse, flying a kite, the seesaw, hoops and much more!