• It is hot in Greece so please be sure to drink a lot and to wear a hat.
  • There has been a request to make the Newsletter more colourful. I hope this highlighting helps a little. 
  •  ITRA_BTHA award: It was decided that the senior researchers award goes to the sociologist Jan Phillips, University of Southern Maine, for her article Accomplishing Family through Toy Consumption and the student prize to  Hyun-Jung Oh (MA, University College London) for her paper The phenomenon of dolls houses.  Putting together Memories and Fantasies. 
  • These two websites dealing with digital games have been recommended.  and
  •  Maria Argyriadis sent this account of the exhibit that her department at the Benaki Museum have prepared.

    Joanna Hatzopoulou is in charge of the project and wrote this item.

    Fairs and Peddlers in Greece 

    In this conference we will deal with an exhibition of toys, which were cottage products, and people use to find them in stalls at fairs or peddlers who used to wander around cities and villages. Until the end of the 19th century, the art of toy making in Greece was predominantly a family affair. During the first decades of the 20 th century and before toy-factories took over, the technology and tradition of constructing a toy was frequently passed from one generation to the other taking place within the members of the family. The father, who was the master craftsman and most often had learned the art from his grandfather, had his wife and children to help him.  

    In our exhibition we will try to attribute a living picture of a Greek fair setting up three stalls in natural size together with a merry go round, a shadow theatre, an optical toy call Panorama and two peddlers holding up their goods.

    In the first room we will meet a stall as it was in antiquity with photographs of ancient toys. It will be an image that goes back to ancient times, as we can confirm from numerous references in texts. During a day of festivity, among the other sellers of goods, was the Koroplaste, who had his stall full of toys out of clay, sometimes ivory, wood even cloth, such as balls, hoops, whip-toys, yo-yo’s, spinning tops, as well as dolls, animal-toys, carts and the like. We recall the words of Strepsiades to his son when he is buying him a cart from a stall :

    I did as you wished when you were a lisping six year old. At Dasia I bought you a little cart with my first salary at heliast”. Aristophanes, (Clouds, 862-865)

    Next to it we will present a stall with toys made of plaster and clay and from the other side a big stall full of toys of the first decades of the 20 th century, made out of clay, plaster of Paris, wood, cloth, but most often out of tin, that is to say a resplendent, colorful array of the craftsman’s imaginative and inventive products. At one corner we will set a shadow theater, a very common Greek show.

    In the second room we will show an improvised merry go round with three animal figures taken from an actual merry go round dated in the 1st half of 20th century and a peddler with his tray full of children’s objects such as jewels, books and small toys and another one holding a wooden board with monkey-puppets. We will also present a miniature carousel and the Panorama- a wooden cylindrical, construction with carved and painted scenes from everyday life, an interesting optical toy that worked as the shadow theater and was one of the most intriguing spectacles at the fairs of Northern Greece.

     In this way we want to show that fairs were one of the most interesting places for children of the small towns and villages, not only representing the craftsman’s imaginative and inventive products but also a place were children could have the opportunity to meet, play and learn through shadow and puppet theater the historical events of their country.