Who can forget the scene from The Patriot when Mel Gibson, who portrays an avenging father, melts his murdered son’s toy soldiers to form shot to kill the British soldiers who needlessly took his son’s life. What poetic justice. It seems appropriate enough then that the Frazier Museum, known for its impressive collection of arms and armor, is adding a regiment of toy soldiers to its permanent collection.
Even though toy soldiers date back to Ancient Egypt, they didn’t gain widespread appeal until the 18th century when they were produced in response to the conquests of Frederick the Great in the Seven Years' War. Since that time, the making of toy soldiers has changed in process, material and style, but they still remain cherished artifacts.
The Frazier’s rare collection of 12,000 toy soldiers, which portrays time periods ranging from Ancient Egypt through World War II, is largely due from life-long collectors Charles W. Stewart of Frankfort, Ky., Orson Munn of Long Island, N.Y., and even the late Malcolm Forbes.
Frazier Museum Executive Director Madeleine Burnside states, “We’re very excited about this amazing collection! There’s an element of nostalgia and childhood playfulness to toy soldiers that’s undeniable. It allows us to show a broader range of history and do it in a very approachable way.”
These tiny models will be integrated into the displays throughout Frazier’s permanent galleries. Burnside says, “These little figures depict real historical events and people. We wanted to create a unique and educational way to display them, so they’ll be exhibited side by side with genuine artifacts.” This exhibit is expected to be one of the largest toy soldier collections on public display in the U.S., and includes one of the largest St. Petersburg Collections® on display in the country, as well as Haffner, M.I.M., Lucotte, Britains, Fouille and Marklin models.
Join Frazier on Sat., Dec. 10th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a special Second Saturday event Toys, Trees, and Traditions. Bring the whole family to experience holiday traditions from around the world with food tastings, crafts, readings by the museum’s historic interpreters, a scavenger hunt and marketplace, as well as live performances with an international flair. It is also the official unveiling of Frazier’s Toy Soldier collection. The planned activities are as follows:
- 11 to 11:45 a.m. The Dulcimer Society
- 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. El Rumbon food truck will be on Main Street serving internationally inspired Cuban dishes
- 12 to 1 p.m. St. Xavier African Drum Ensemble
- 1:30 to 2 p.m. . A Frazier Historic Interpreter will read “The Night Before Christmas”
- 2 to 2:30 p.m. Hand bells played by Steven Straub
- 3 to 4 p.m. Andean Pipes performance by Winay
For more information go to www.fraziermuseum.org/learn-play/for-families-kids/second-saturdays/
photo: courtesy of the Frazier museum