Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Growing up with Galt

I recently bought a catalogue of Galt toys, and was delighted to find most of the Galt things I remembered from my childhood - and to identify some which I hadn't realised were from Galt! The photo above shows most of them in a group.

The cover of the catalogue. I can't find a date, but it's pre 1971, when the British currency was decimalised.

One of my favourites among our Galt toys is the Pattern Jigsaw:

This is cut along the edges of the different coloured shapes, so completing the jigsaw is a matter of fitting the shapes together - and matching the tiny edges of colour left on some pieces. It's painted directly onto the wood. I love the animal shapes, abstract designs and the colours.
Here it is in the catalogue, described as "difficult enough to occupy for a long time the child of 6 or over who is expert at jigsaws" (strangely, no designer is named):

On the same page, there are other jigsaws illustrated, including these Picture Book Jigsaws, from a children's book by A. and M. Provenson:

I have the first two, and I didn't know that they were also from Galt! They are Farm House and Old City, and they are printed on paper stuck onto the wood; a couple of bits have come away from the wood over the years:

Also among the jigsaws is my sister's Teddy Bear, on the bottom left among the Early Tray Jigsaws, designed by Beryl Coles and J. M. Miles:

(Teddy's foot has been missing for quite some time, poor thing!)

In the section of toys for the first three years, I recognise two which I can remember playing with:

10 coloured plastic nuts to screw onto a threaded rod, and pegs to hammer down ...

And someone I recognise well, but I had no idea he was from Galt -

Moppet! We also had the girl doll - she was probably my sister's - but for some reason we didn't keep her. Moppet is mine, and we still have him! (And, as my sister said, clearly his hair is meant to be as wild as it is!)

For children in their 3rd and 4th years, there is a cute little village:

I don't think we had this, though I can remember little carved wooden trees and people and sheep - perhaps from another, similar set ....

But this I do recognise - and not only did we have it, but we still do - I found it in a cupboard!

Noah's Ark - "specially made for us by hand craftsmen using the natural colour and grain of various woods." (And coloured wood for Noah and Mrs Noah, unless they found red and green woods ....) .... "A very beautiful toy to be treasured in the family for many years."

Yes indeed! You can see the wood grain even in the catalogue photo, and I hope you can see it in the photos (sorry about the rather ordinary background):

(The Noah's Ark box is at the back of the first photo in this blogpost, and still has part of its label.)

The middle pages of the catalogue are in colour, and show the wall charts available. Here I found an old friend:

Wanderland! This poster was on our bedroom wall - all I really remember of it is "She sells sea shells on the sea shore," which is at the bottom, just to the left of the sailing ship ("I saw three ships come sailing in!")
According to the catalogue, this was designed by Philippa Threlfall, and has a landscape peopled by characters from nursery rhymes and stories - to which I would add, Christmas carols and mythology ....

Not surprisingly, perhaps, we didn't have any of the Galt out of doors equipment or the storage and furniture - much too heavy to post to Australia! Galt made two dolls houses - or rather, one open-sided dolls house:

and a set of doll's play rooms, which could be arranged to make bungalows or houses or several storeys:

I don't remember our childhood dolls house well - I just have an impression of white walls inside and out - but I don't think it was from Galt. Perhaps some of our dolls house dolls were, however, as - along with the Erna Meyer dolls and Bessie and Darlow - we had some Dol-toi dolls, which were sold by Galt in Galt boxes:

The Barton dolls house furniture pictured here sometimes comes up on UK ebay packaged in Galt boxes; once or twice I have seen some Dol-toi dolls in Galt boxes too.

This Galt catalogue includes a Memory game for children of 7 and up, "greatly enjoyed [by them] not least because they nearly always win against adults"!

We have a set of Galt memory cards (though not the box) - but they must have been from a different catalogue, because the pictures are different. Here are some of the pictures on our set:

I had trouble getting some of the colours accurate - the red of the crab and behind the paint box is more of a vermilion shade, and the blue behind the sailing ship is a deeper teal colour - very rich and bright.

The set of smaller Memory cards includes other designs too, which we also have as a set of larger cards, perhaps for Snap? I don't know who the designer was, as the larger set isn't listed in this catalogue either.

We also have Galt Octons, which are not in this catalogue - and which I don't have here to photograph. I'll add a photo when I can.

At the end of the catalogue are Stocking Fillers, and here is one thing we had:

A mobile made with Japanese paper balls ....

and another which we still have:

Glass threading beads in brilliant colours!

Galt Toys is still going, and from the look of the 2011 catalogue, still brightly coloured - but not surprisingly, a rather different range from the late 1960s. I wonder if they're as strong and long-lasting?


  1. Ah Rebecca! I had the Galt dollhouse until last year when it went to live in Switzerland...oh how I searched and searched for the name of that dollhouse! It was so similar to the one made by Creative Playthings (stairs different) and it was marked Made in England, so I knew it wasn't a CP. I bought it because it was full of German dollhouse furniture made to resemble the Strombecker of the 30s. Anyway, glad to find out what it was I had! When we look at our childhood toys...we can go home again! Thanks for this wonderful post! Flo

  2. Hi Rebecca, Wonderful nostalgia! Do you still have the old catalogue? I had the next in the series of the Wanderland wallcharts (a historical map) and have been desperately trying to track down a picture of it as I have long since lost the original poster.

    1. Hi Hilary, Sorry to take so long to reply. I do still have the catalogue, but sadly I don't think the chart you refer to is in it. The other wall charts in this catalogue are a Mariners Chart, an Aviation Chart, a Pictorial Wall Chart, Fishes, and Vintage Cars. The map says it shows animals, fishes and the sort of people inhabiting different parts of the world. Perhaps your wallchart would have been in a different year?

    2. Hi Rebecca, thank you for having a look, and sorry I only just saw your reply when I happened upon your page again while doing another search for all things Galt! I also had many of the toys and looking at the pictures you've put up brings back many happy memories, so thank you very much for sharing them.

  3. Oh! I've been searching for ages for an image of your favourite beautiful Pattern Puzzle for ages. I used to have that the puzzle and played with it fairly incessantly- indeed I credit it with my adult love of abstract art. Thanks so much for posting. I'm very envious of you still owning it.

  4. Hello Rebecca, my name is Adam and I work for Galt Toys. We are currently celebrating our 180th birthday and are curating photos of our old toys from down the years on our Instagram account. We'd love to feature some of your images if you'd be happy for us to re-post them? You can checkout our account here and this post tells you about the project. unfortunately in August of 2003 we suffered a fire at our head offices and most of our archives were lost. So we're trying to piece together our past. ;)

    1. Hello Adam, you are very welcome to use any of my images of Galt Toys, or of course the images I scanned from the Galt catalogue! I wish I could say I'd take some better photos for you, but all my Galt toys are at my mother's home, a long way away. And I still haven't taken a photo of the Octons - I'll be there again at Easter, so I'll try to take photos then.
      I'm so sorry to hear about the fire - how dreadful to lose most of your archives. If you don't already have a copy of this particular catalogue, I'd be happy to scan it for you. I may know some dolls house collectors who have Galt boxes of dolls house furniture, too - would you be interested in photos?

    2. Hi Rebecca, thanks for coming back to me and sorry for the slow response.
      We really appreciate you offering to share your pictures, I'll have them up on our Instagram account over the coming weeks. Are you on Instagram yourself?

      Also we'd love to see any additional Galt images you have or can source from your collector friends.

    3. Sorry not sure why it didn't come up with GaltToys this time. It's Adam from Galt. ;)

  5. hi Rebecca

    I have Galt chair that my mother bought in the early 60s, It is quite versatile. It is a

    a rocking chair
    a stool
    a push along device as it has wooden wheels.

    Would love to find a copy of it in a Galt catalogue.