Friday Fun Victorian Style

A Victorian wife was instructed in all matters relating the running of a household, including the handling of money. She was to “take an honest pride in appropriating the money” which her husband entrusted to her.

The above quote is from my 1890 edition of Manners, Culture and Dress. The author, Richard A. Wells, included information on how a wife was to conduct herself in regard to her purchases: “Be very careful also, that you do not spend more than can be afforded in dress; and be satisfied with such carpets and curtains in your drawing-room as befit a moderate fortune, or professional income.”

I don’t know about you, but I found the phrase “moderate fortune” somewhat amusing, since a fortune is, by definition, a large amount of money. Perhaps this was the author’s way of letting his reader know he was addressing the middle classes. After all, those with vast fortunes wouldn’t have to concern themselves with the price of curtains, would they?

Since living within one’s means was a virtue in Victorian times, children were taught to be careful with the money given them. Saving money was admirable. Thus, a bank was a popular children’s toy.

Which one of the three toy banks below would not have been for sale in a mercantile in the year 1870, and why? You can leave your guess in a comment.

balking mule trick bank

combination bank

register bank

Update and Answer

The register bank would not have been sold in 1870,

Cash registers weren’t invented until the 1880s.


Images from  Old-Time Toys, Dolls and Novelties CD-ROM & book from Dover Publications and are used by permission.
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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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9 Responses to Friday Fun Victorian Style

  1. I’m going with the combination, but I don’t know why! LOL

  2. Anne Payne says:

    Register Bank, because that’s my husband’s guess 🙂

  3. Keli, this continues to be one of my favorite of your features. It was an interesting time, not only in England but here in the US. I also remember that so many of the special banks were made of tin and fast became popular to teach children about savings. It continued into the 20th Century and was even encouraged in pubic school. One thinks of the expression: every penny counts 🙂

  4. jennifermajor says:

    I’m going to say the register. But my twisted mind would love to see a black and white picture of an Iphone under the register.

  5. Cindy says:

    I’d say a register bank, just because that was my first instinct. I’m going to go see the answer 🙂

  6. wendypainemiller says:

    Bank b/c I’m pretending I’m smart & actually know the answer.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Melissa Tagg says:

    Fun!! I’d say the register bank, but only because I really like the balking mule one, and so I did eenie-meenie-miney-mo between the other two. 🙂

  8. Bah….um….register?

  9. I’d guess mule kick bank because they’d see the action when they added the money.

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