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Online Collections


16th Century

The spinning top has appeared in illustrations and images of many ancient civilizations. This universal plaything came in several varieties, and over the centuries, it has developed several uses. The simplest tops required some skill to keep them spinning; a game of who could make the top spin the longest makes a winner of the one most skilled; a teetotum, a top with numbered or lettered sides has been used in games of chance everywhere. A specialized teetotum appears every year at Chanukah when children play with dreidels to win chocolates and other treats. The whip top uses a string to keep the top spinning and requires subtly different skills to keep the top moving on the ground or in the air. In America, children throughout the 19th century devised games and competitions involving their whip tops. Some games became races to a finish line. In other games, the objective entailed crashing into an opponent's top and knocking it out of the field of play. Still other games required players to follow the leader, whipping their tops around or over obstacles and on to the end of the course. Tops have changed some throughout the centuries; metal tops replaced wooden ones and those, in turn, were replaced by plastic ones.

Materialwood | metal
Stylehand made
Object ID111.1029

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