Image from the exhibition.
Life is not all work. Games and toys go back to the highest antiquity.
The Rig-Veda, composed before 1500 B.C., already mentions the game
of dice. Children and adults throughout the ages have always found
ways to occupy their minds and bodies in ways they did not consider
"work." A game is something people feel they must be able
to engage in freely, and quit freely, in which they are not externally
compelled, but above all it is something they enjoy. Indeed, it
could be work, but divorced from economic necessity (though, of
course, it can also bring economic gains or losses). Above all,
it is the freedom and tile enjoyment that are valued. To be enjoyed,
the game must have structure and rules, and there must be a clear
winner. Paradoxically, freedom is found in following the rules.
Games are great training ground for life when allotted their rightful
place. It is through them that Waterloos are won. Their structures
and rules often are schematizations (simplified models) of social,
economic or military situations in "real life." One need
only, recall card games, the Monopoly (patented 1930), or chess.
They may also sharpen and test physical skills, as various billiard
and marksmanship games do. The models shown here include a game
table, a "pin-less pinball machine" if one could so describe
it (No. 134,125), a board game for backgammon and a hobby horse
which could as well have been in the company of swings. It even
includes a "theater stage," though in a sense, more of
a professional development; but it shows the thin and artificial
line separating work from play: more of an attitude of mind than
a measurable and quantifiable entity.
PATENT NO. 159,846
Improvement in Pigeon Starters
Henry A. Rosenthal, Inventor
Brooklyn, New York
February 16, 1875
Finally, is the startling "Pigeon-starter" patented by
a Dr. Henry A. Rosenthal of Brooklyn. It is included here to amuse
the visitor by its looks and set the mind a-musing by its ends.
The good doctor writes in his patent:
My invention has for its object to furnish an improved device
for use in Pigeon-shooting, to start the birds out of the trap
when it has been sprung, and which shall be simple in construction,
convenient in use, and effective in operation, starting the birds
instantly and surely.
In using the starter, it is placed near the trap with the
animal's head toward the said trap, the body being held in a crouching
position by the spring catch. The starter is then tripped at the
same time that the trap is sprung, or immediately afterward. As
the animal springs into an erect position toward the trap the
pigeons are frightened from the trap, and immediately rise in
As traps have heretofore been used, it frequently happens
that the pigeons will not leave the trap when it is sprung, and
have to be frightened out by shouting and throwing stones, etc.,
which tends to make the sportsman nervous, and frequently causes
him to lose his shot. It also frequently happens that the pigeons,
when they leave the trap will run along the ground for a distance
before rising into the air.
Neither of these troubles can happen. When my improved starter
is used, as the birds will be frightened causing them to leave
the trap and rise at once into the air.
So, dear visitor, we wish you a good hunt.