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Circus lead figures
Title : Circus lead figures Circus lead figures View More Images
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Format : Toy
Dimensions : 60-90 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

A circus set of flat lead figures comprising 19 pieces including ringmasters, clown with donkey, clown with dogs, clowns with hoop, clown with pig and a barrel piece, prancing horses, a strongman holding up three people, various animals, fence pieces and poles with banners.

These beautifully detailed hand-painted flat leads are 1960s reproduction from original 19th century moulds. With this set a child can recreate a circus. 

The flat lead method of casting was widely used for toy soldiers, and later for farm settings, menageries and circuses.

These appealed to girls as well as boys. Some of the manufacturers increased the educational value of their lead figures by adding the correct zoological name on the base of the figure.

Flat leads were widely produced before William Britain and his family developed the method of hollow-cast figures. Britains Ltd was founded in 1845 by William Britain. The hollow-cast method of production was developed in the 1890s and initially toy soldiers were produced. Now a truly 3-dimensional figure could be produced cheaply with minimal use of metal. The hollow-cast method largely surplanted the flat or semi-flat style.

Period : 1946-1979
Further reading :

Fraser, Antonia. A history of toys, London: Weidenfeld & N., [1966]

Jaffe, Deborah. The history of toys: from spinning tops to robots, Stroud [England]: Sutton, 2006

Opie, Iona. The treasures of childhood: books, toys and games from the Opie collection, London: Pavilion, 1989

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