HISTORY ON DISPLAY: Toy horses reach across 150 years to tell story

About 12 years ago, Cheri Raftery popped out of an eatery in Glenrock, Wyoming, and noticed a rickety toy horse outside a nearby thrift store.

Within minutes, she dropped about $80 on the mechanical horse, which dates back to the 1880s.

“It could have been hundreds for all I care, because it was unique and I’ve never seen another one like it,” she said.

Now, she has eight mechanical horses, commonly called toy horses, that span from pre-Civil War through the 1960s.

Rocking horse is a modern term for this type of toy, because in the 18th and 19th centuries most people owned real horses. With the advent of the motor vehicle, rocking horses became the catch-all phrase for the toy.

Every mechanical horse Raftery adds to her collection has a different motion. A gray horse from Connecticut and a mustang from Texas move like a real horse, she said. Both have a “fluidity” that mirrors a life-like feel, similar to the floating sensation of a horse-drawn buggy.

“That motion is something you’ll never forget,” she said. “And that’s why these old toys, all being of different mechanical motion, got me excited and got me into collecting them.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Dec. 19, 2018.


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