As any of you who know your American history or saw the Disney movie “Pocahantas,” Jamestown, Virginia, was the first English settlement in the United States. Founded in 1607, Jamestown was a rough place for the colonists. Indian attacks, starvation, and cannibalism were hallmarks of the first few years.
Jamestown is today an active archaeological site and a fascinating place to visit. Surprisingly, for a place that went through such hardships, several toys have been discovered. The most recent is the above-pictured copper house.
Experts have determined it to be a replica of a 17th century Dutch home. As the Jamestown site tells us:
Archaeologists think this was a toy windmill. The blades, now missing, probably attached through the hole in the roofline, with a rod passed through to the other side of the object. By pulling a string wrapped around the rod, you would be able to make the blades spin. You could then rewind the string on the rod by turning the blades in the opposite direction and start all over again—a 17th century yo-yo!
The find raises some interesting questions. Jamestown was an English settlement, so why was this a Dutch house? How did it get to Jamestown? Did they trade with the Dutch, or did a settler bring this intricate toy with them? What was a toy doing there? There were very few children present. Was the owner a person with some wealth? It would seem that a toy of this quality would have been expensive.
It seems that 400 years ago, in a time of great danger and even death, people wanted to play. And not just play but play with toys.
Once the quarantines are relaxed, you may want to pay a visit to Virginia’s historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, Virginia. They are all with 20 minutes of each other and make for a great family trip.