A TREASURE TOY CHEST
until March 14th, 2009
Michael Freeman, Curator of Ceredigion Museum was present recently when an old toy chest was opened for the first time for 70 years.
The chest was owned by Dewi Rowlands of Llanon. He had kept his toys in it since he was a boy and had kept the chest in the family home until it had to be moved to a shed, to make more room in the kitchen. He married in 1961 but never let his wife see the contents and it wasn't until over a year after he died that she decided to expose its secrets.
The chest itself was lined with 19th century newspapers but in the bottom was a newspaper of 1937 which may well have been new when it was last closed.
Sadly some of the contents became damp, mouldy and rusty, but many of them are in reasonable condition. The toys included a clock-work train set; a clock-work autogyro; many lead farm and zoo animals and soldiers; wooden puzzles; a large wooden alphabet and a plastic doll.
One small tin contained many bits and pieces – marbles, broken toys, nuts and bolts - the sorts of thing which might have been found in the pockets of a small boy during the 1930s.
Amongst the things which had to be thrown away because they were so mouldy were home-made toy farm buildings; a game of snakes and ladders;
Dewi was born in Llanon in 1927 and had one sister, Elsie who spent the whole of her life in the village. One of the items in the chest was a piece of wood with the words 'Elsie and boy' written on it: Dewi was called 'boy' by his family when young.
After leaving school, Dewi went to Cardiff College of Art but was called up to join the RAF in 1946. After two years National Service he returned to college and then went to Bristol in 1954 where he worked as an accountant until his retirement in 1992 when he returned to Llanon.
He bought hundreds of Airfix kits of model aeroplanes many of which he carefully constructed. When he died, his widow sold nearly 1000 of his unmade kits in aid of the RAF benevolent fund.
We are extremely grateful to Brenda Rowlands of Llanon for lending us these toys and photographs for this special exhibition.