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Monday, June 6

Toys, made in Nürnberg

This past Sunday when we had a lot of time on our hands and nothing to do outside because of an overcast weather, we decided to check out the toy museum in old town. To give you a little background, toy manufacturing and trading has played an important role in Nürnberg’s economic development over the past 500+ years. At the height of its boom, metal toy manufacturing was synonymous with Nürnberg. Although after WWII the industry declined, in the last 30- 40 years, it has regained its momentum; today, 30% of toys manufactured in Germany are made by Nürnberg toy companies.

The museum has everything from its first dolls (made in 1500s) to current dolls to history of doll houses to trains to wooden puppets to metal toys (that grandfathers brought back home after fighting WWII- my grandfather did not have any metal puppet toys because he didn’t fight in any wars in his time in India. (He did travel to Iraq for work, when Iraq was a good place to work, back in the day). But I digress.

There was one room that exhibited kitchens (Kuchen), irons and ironing boards, and washing machines, all to children’s scale, to impersonate the day to day chores of an adult to teach the kids how to cook, wash clothes and iron their clothes. My favorite part of the entire museum was the kitchens. There were small kitchens and large doll house ones too. The kitchens, regardless of their size, were very elaborate and had every minor detail a chef would want in a professional kitchen today. To give an example, one dollhouse kitchen had a 6 burner stove, coffee & tea service sets, all the ladles, spoons and whisks to my heart’s content, intricate plateware sets, sauciers, skillets, saucepans; pretty much everything that I’d love to have in my real kitchen. Most of these were made by Bing. Bing was a German company that was founded in 1863 and at one point in early 1900s was the largest toy manufacturer in Nürnberg. During the wars, the toy industry was in trouble as was the Bing company; since the founders were Jewish they fled Germany for safer grounds.

Finally there was the Omaha train station, modeled from the original. The model had many railcars with tracks, and stations as well as post office, library, hotels, restaurants, private homes, all along the railroad tracks. Unfortunately the trains were at a standstill but I could imagine the entire town in action.

It’s definitely worth seeing the museum and how they’ve presented the history of toy making in Nürnberg and the rise, fall and revitalization of toy manufacturing market. We can't wait to take all the toy lovers or parents of toy-playing kids for a visit. 

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