rating button
An overview of the Parker collection | Parker collection | Birmingham City Council

An overview of the Parker collection

The Parker Collection is the Library of Birmingham’s unique archive of educational books and games for children, dating back to the Edwardian and Victorian periods. In this clip Cherie Gladstone introduces the collection, which includes everything from Victorian Dressing dolls, to pop-up books and board games.


My name is Cherie Gladstone, I work with the Parker Collection, I look after it, I make sure that it's kept in reasonable condition, and that any work that needs doing is done. Its just amazing the range of items we’ve got. They range from fairly sort of frivolous things like the Victorian dressing dolls, the dressing up dolls, and then we’ve got very much boys toys like the train sets, and board games based on train sets, and we’ve got educational games which teach children how to spell, and to read, and to write and to know their Bible, and to know the Lord’s Prayer. Then we’ve got very amusing but also fun games, some quite obviously aimed at the older child I would say, so there were some stargazing games, and some young naturalist games which show you different elements of natural history.

This is the Chad Valley board game, it's called Loco.

The Bird’s Nest.

This is Sprechendes Bilderbuch.

Here we’ve got some bone tiles, we think they were made in Africa, the majority are British or English games. We’ve got quite a few German games, because the German games manufacturers were very inventive, particularly with colour. Their colour processes were advanced of ours. And there’s a few games that you can’t really tell where they came from because they have 3 languages on the lid so we’ve got French, German and English as instructions, so there was obviously quite a good international market in children’s games at the time, this would be about 1845 to 1850 early Victorian. Obviously trade was very much a facet of Victorian life.

Brunnel’s Tunnel Under the Thames.

The New Parlour Spelling Game and this is Urania’s Mirror.

This conservation effort all started in 2008 when we applied to get a grant from the Museum’s and Libraries Archives Council, what we wanted to do was we wanted to have paper based games, cleaned, packaged, so that they would be easier to show to people and that they would be less likely to get damaged. And they’re done to the very highest standards by a professional conservator. All of the packaging is acid free, conservation grade card, its not just about what children used to be like its also because of their relationship with their children, what their parents used to be like and other adults in the community are like. And how we’ve thought of children and how we’ve made plans to educate and bring up the next generation.