© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Until the 20th century, the centre of the toy making industry was firmly fixed in Germany. Salesmen and manufacturer’s agents travelled between toy fairs carrying samples of toys and dolls to show potential customers. This was often very difficult, particularly when the samples were bulky and heavy.

The first agent known to have produced a catalogue of illustrated toys (in 1803) was George Bestelmeier of Nuremberg. The catalogue consisted of a number of pages of illustrations featuring a variety of toys, and sometimes other products, printed onto individual sheets of paper. These pages were used to advertise toys and were easy to carry and send.

The Museum has a bound volume of pages by Eduard and Louis Lindner of Sonneberg dating from 1840-42. Catalogues like this are extremely rare and there are few surviving examples outside Germany. They are important because not only do they show the range of toys that were being produced, but they also include the price.