Please note that the artworks below are presented for museum research ONLY! It is an offense to copy them from our web site!

The Silliman Etching

The newest jouster using
a Walker

One hundred and five years after Brueghel did his painting of the multitude of kids on the street, Silliman drew this absolutely beautiful drawing! (The year was 1665.) It is though so often forgotten in toy research so we wanted to show it to you. Look for the following games and toys in the picture. Many of the areas are much more clearly visible in the reproduction below, but the sides of the art have been cut off below, and that one has clearly been "Touched up". We have done a great deal of research into this art work as you will see and it is indeed another masterpiece in the Wonderful World of Toys and Games.


1. Playing House. Two young girls playing with an assortment of house utensils. Fire place poker and shovel, plates, cups, silverware, etc. are all visible. Note also the girl on the right has a doll with a dress much like her own. The girl on the left seems to be preparing the basket below for the doll. Behind them is a girl or adult carrying a child (left) wrapped tightly in shawl, etc.
2. Inflating a pig's bladder. This has been cut off in the photo below.
3. A live kite. This one is a bit gruesome. A young Lad with a bird on a string. Very often live birds were in that unfortunate position.
4. Hoop and Stick

5. To the Left, boy with a Windmill. To the Right, a bird flies between two young lads. Probably held on a string that we cannot see.
6. Acrobats. Two boys standing on their heads
7. Whip Top
8. Many books quote this as cup and ball, but this is incorrect. We believe that this is 100% certain to be a lad blowing bubbles from a solution in a small cup shaped container on the end of the stick that he holds. Our Friend Cyril from England writes the following re the solution. "As far as I know from my reading the History of the Dutch book, the soap solution is held in the half mussel shell fixed to the end of his short stick. I have never tried this as yet, but it is logical that a stiff breeze or carefully aimed blowing would cause bubbles to stream off the surface of the solution in the shell half. I guess that one of us is going to have to experiment?" Click Here to see our hollow wooden bubble blowing tube.

9. This one is interesting. The boy is holding the girl back grabbing her scarf with a whip in the other hand. Is this simply the old "Boy teases girl thing?" It is much, much more likely a game of "Baste the Bear" or "Horse and Cart". The sash and whip make these choices logical. It is possible that the girl (the bear) is lashing out at the kids in the parade. (Thus, Baste the Bear.) The other possibility as mentioned is a simple imitation of a "Horse and Cart". The boy is the rider in the cart with the whip. The girl is of course the horse. We do not yet know the answer on this one for certain.
10. The Parade. Look at this one carefully. You will see the parade master in front. A young lad with a shield protects the parade folk from a prominent position in front. Behind him the musical instruments, like flutes, drumbs, etc. The following are the kids with flags, pikes, etc. In the book "Toys of Other Days" Mrs Jackson the author talks of how interesting that it is that this really seems to be a military parade, but there are girls in it as well as boys. The drawing of this parade is of huge historical significance.
Today we often speak of how girls spend more time playing "Boy's games" than before. Does this drawing tell us that this has been the case more than we thought?
11. Stick Horse with a whip (simple pole and stick for whip)
12. Game of Leap Frog

13. Flying a Kite
14. Flying a Kite. Notice the kite above. It is more clearly visible in the second drawing below. You will notice that the tail is above the kite. Look closely and you will see part of the string attached to the kite and part in front of the child. This is Silliman's humor showing through again. The child has lost his hat. And his kite, both at the same time! The item in his hand is a kite string holder. The rounded part at bottom is his hand wrapped around it.
15. 2 boys on stilts.
16. A young boy throwing a Kayles Club. (See #18 below.)

17. Boy with his hand up to his face blowing something. A whistle? Imitating a flute player possibly? We believe though that it is most likely that he is blowing a whistle.
18 What we have here is a great old rousing game of Kayles. Boy in #16 is throwing the club. Against the wall you will see 4 white objects. These are bones we believe. Shoulder bones maybe? They are the Kayles. One has been knocked down and three remain standing. In front of them are what looks like two socks. These are two Clubs that have already been thrown. They are actually we believe hollowed out bones. Leg and shin/foot bone maybe? The young lad kneeling with his hands on his knees is watching carefully very enthused with the game. The other behind is almost certainly doing the same, while trying to avoid getting hit!
19. You have to look in the version below for this and it is partly cut off. On the left a boy plays a fiddle (violin). On the right a child with a sissors toy.
20. Boy Skipping

21. Boy running. Probably getting ready to leap over the lad bending down in front.
22. Blind Man's Buff. Interesting to note the bit of humor here by the artist. A girl has just knocked the "Blind Man's" hat off.

Sometimes it is so neat to speculate. And so frustrating knowing at this business that we cannot. In the background of this drawing just right of exact center, you will see a child or adult sitting on a bench with a pole. (Enlarge the brighter version of it below by using right click as suggested.) Virtually everything that the artist drew on this drawing is for a purpose. The dogs running in the excitement. The bubbles blowing away. etc. So we can assume that the artist put this figure there for a purpose. He has also demonstrated a sense of humor as shown above. Might we speculate that this is a young lad or lass who did not get their way as to where they were to stand in the big parade, and thus is sitting back "sulking"? Course we know that no museum people ever see that with kids today! We will probably never know for certain. As is so often the case isn't it? So frustratingly so.

Copy of Silliman engraving above from the book "Toys of other days" by Mrs F Nevill Jackson

Right Click on Drawing below and click on "View Image" to Enlarge.

Image best viewed using FireFox. If you have it, once you right click as indicated in line above, simply click Control and + to magnify the image many times. To go back to normal size, click Control and Number 0.

Copy of Silliman Engraving above from "The History of Toys" by Antonia Fraser

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