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  • Place of origin:

    Germany (probably, made)
    Austria (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1890 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilded base metal (possibly lead) on a bone handle; silk tassels

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Kitty Todor

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The rattle in its most basic form, as a simple toy to divert a baby, goes back to at least the 2nd century BC. It has also been made of some extremely basic materials, such as a dried gourd, or a piece of hollowed-out bone filled with dried peas.

Rattles made from precious metals such as silver and gold are familiar from child portraits of the sixteenth century onward. They were often given as Christening presents and handed down through families.

Physical description

The rattle consists of a lyre-shaped frame of gilded metal mounted on a bone handle. The frame contains two narrow horizontal bars, from which hung four small ringing baubles, and the bars are divided by a central upright which terminates in a rigid loop for an optional ribbon or cord. The frame is decorated with beading and arabesque foliage, and a bauble with a silken tassel hangs from each of the finials. The bone handle is plain, and ovoid in shape with a small hole in one face.

Place of Origin

Germany (probably, made)
Austria (possibly, made)


ca.1890 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gilded base metal (possibly lead) on a bone handle; silk tassels

Marks and inscriptions

Unknown: possibly first child's initial, but at least as likely to have originated with manufacturer
Stamped above handle


Height: 16.25 cm, Width: 8.15 cm maximum, Height: 6 3/8 in, Width: 3 3/16 in maximum

Object history note

Given by by Miss K Todor (RF 90/443). The donor states that the rattle belonged to Ernst Schlesinger who was born c.1890 in Vienna and fell as a member of the German forces during the 1914-18 War. He was the eldest of four children, and the rattle may also have been used by his siblings Franz, Johann, & Lilli.

Descriptive line

Rattle for a baby, lyre-shaped gilt metal with baubles and tassels, on a bone handle; Germany or Austria, ca.1890

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Article 'Kinder oder Babyrasseln heissen sie nur im Lexikon' pp 17-19 in September 1990 Puppen & Spielzeug

Production Note

Said to date from c.1890, but possibly earlier. See References: the article cited illustrates two examples said to date from c.1820, which are not only similar in appearance to this rattle, but made using a similar technique superseded in Germany by the end of the century.


Base metal; Bone; Silk


Casting; Turning; Gilding; Stamping


Children & Childhood

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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