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“Providence” Toy Boat


This toy steamship, prominently identified as the Providence, leans heavily on color lithography to animate an otherwise simple form. Produced by the Massachusetts-based W. S. Reed Toy Company, it is an example of the kind of colorful paper-and-wood toys that became possible in the late 19th century as a result of the rising commercial availability of color lithography. In this instance, printed details transform the toy’s flat surface into an illusion of two recessed decks. The ship’s top deck would have originally been decorated with several paper flags, a crew of paper doll sailors, and a chimney complete with a billowing cloud of smoke. It is notable that the Eameses’ toy collection—especially their trains and boats—often call attention to various sources of power. While the toys themselves were generally powered by hand, they reference energy sources like wind, coal, and steam.

  • Medium:Wood, paper, metal, paint
  • Dimensions:7 1/2 x 20 x 4 1/2 in. (19.1 x 50.8 x 11.4 cm)
  • Item:T.2019.2.295.3