Reconstructing the Regency – The Dandy Toy

As part of a series of classes I will be giving on Regency life, using objects rather just pictures, I am reconstructing various objects that are either very rare or only survive in pictures. Of these toys are the rarest as they were usually played to pieces.

 English Ladies Dandy Toy cropped

I recently came across a print of 1818 entitled The English Ladies Dandy Toy, it shows a lady playing with a child’s toy, a Jumping Jack. This is a very ancient toy, which works by pulling the string making the legs move. The cartoon is probably a skit on the ‘Dandy’, the hyper-fashionable men of the early nineteenth century, suggesting that they are little more than toy boys for the ladies of the period, not real men.

 Dandy Toy detail

The ‘Dandy Toy’ the lady is holding is clearly a caricature of the dandy of the period, a thin, corseted waist (men wore tighter corsets than women at this time!) and the very high neck cloth which could prevent the men turning the head.

 Reconstruction 1

I naturally wanted to make a ‘Dandy Toy’, so took an outline plan of a jumping jack, then adapted it to something approaching the toy the lady is holding. This was then stuck to a sheet of card and painted.

 Reconstruction double

Finally it was cut out and fitted together with modern paper fasteners (the original would have used wire) and linked with heavy thread. And there I had a ‘Dandy Toy’.

 V0011689 A corpulent woman provides the pustule for the vaccination o

And here is one being used in a brilliant fashion, indeed just as one might be used today. To distract a child as it is being vaccinated. A contemporary view of the way in which one of the most important medical advances of all time was implemented.


Filed under Georgian, Historical Reconstructions, Reconstructing the Regency, Regency

10 responses to “Reconstructing the Regency – The Dandy Toy

  1. love this, bro; very informative


  2. Reblogged this on TanGental and commented:
    A little something to intrigue and inform


  3. That is so unusual! I had never heard of this!


  4. Terrific post! I had no idea men wore corsets, too. Ugh, the discomforts of fashion. Your dandy looks dandy! I think next you need to open an Etsy Shop and sell them!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jan

    Fascinating! I love it. The Victorians are infinitely interesting. (here from Geoff’s blog)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had no idea about men’s corsets and the high collars. Who knew! Nice to know there was a time when fashion made men uncomfortable, too. Anything on the shoes?

    Liked by 1 person

    • In fact this was probably the one time in history when men’s fashion could be more uncomfortable than woman’s. One comment from a re-enactor about the woman’s dress is, ‘It’s like wearing a nightie all the time.’
      Shoes, even for the working class, were usually hand made by the local cordwainer or cobbler. It wasn’t until later in the nineteenth century, with the concentration of people in big, industrial towns, and the development of large shoe manufacturers, and the railways that could distribute the shoes, that things like shoe sizes came about, together with ill fitting shoes.


  7. Echoing all the comments above. This is really interesting. And a great dandy you’ve made there!


  8. Loved reading this and the comments. I didn’t know men wore corsets either. Loved your version of the dandy man too.


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