Spinning Tops & Gumdrops

A Portrait of Colonial Childhood
Edwin Barnard


Spinning Tops & Gumdrops captures a time when imagination, skill and daring was the source of children’s play. Quoits and jacks, hide and seek, cricket with a kerosene tin for a wicket, dress ups and charades, can all be seen in these appealing images. Children climb trees, run races, and build rafts to sail on the local waterhole, happily absorbed in the play of their own making.

The lasting impression left by the contemporary accounts, photographs, etchings and paintings of colonial children in the book is their possession of qualities of resilience, self-sufficiency and acceptance of their lot. Perhaps it was through lack of choice, or of knowing no other.

Nevertheless, these were qualities that put them in good stead for the challenges many faced in their adulthood. Interestingly, these are qualities on which contemporary society still places a high value, but which today seem a little more elusive.


  • Format
  • Pages
  • Size
    260 x 250mm
  • Publisher
    National Library
  • ISBN
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