Historical children’s toys are a rich source of nostalgia for many people. While they represent important aspects of history such as changing technology, fashions or new materials, many toys also embody compelling personal stories. Some bring back treasured childhood memories or are evocative of life-changing events.
Each of the toys included in the Mid-century Toys stamp issue has a story to tell. All were made in Aotearoa New Zealand, either by hand or by a New Zealand manufacturer, and all were owned by a child who grew up in this country.
One toy, a Māori doll made under licence in New Zealand by Pedigree, was owned by Lynn Hyde (nee Everitt). Lynn was eight years old when she was given the doll in 1961. It was to be a reminder of home while the family embarked on a trip abroad to America and Britain. International travel was rare in the 1960s. Flights were extremely expensive and out of reach for most people. For those that could afford the trip, it was a very special, often life-changing event.
Lynn began her journey by ship from Auckland to Miami. The family then flew to New York and then on to London. When disembarking in New York an American couple stopped them and admired the doll saying, 'oh what a cute little Indian doll'. A conversation about the doll's Māori origins sparked a conversation and friendship that lasted a lifetime. The American family came on holiday to New Zealand, and years later Lynn visited them in the USA while on her ‘big OE’.
When Lynn donated the doll to Te Papa, she said that she hoped her story would inspire others to approach strangers with the 'spirit of friendship and generosity' she and her family encountered, and that they will be rewarded with a lifelong treasure-trove of memories like these families were.
When the doll was chosen to feature on one of the Mid-century Toys stamps, Lynn was delighted to know her doll might travel again – albeit on a stamp this time. Perhaps this stamp will take a letter or card with a message of love and be part of a new set of stories and memories between friends or family.
Image: Te Papa collection, Maori Doll, Gift of Lynn Hyde. GH017608