Featured Object

In each issue, the bimonthly DAR magazine, American Spirit, highlights an object from the DAR Museum collection in its "National Treasures" feature. These objects, often recent accessions or important pieces in the current exhibit, always have a story to tell about American history.

National Treasures

To the Rescue

Based on the toy horses, carriages and carts that appear in early boys' portraits, it seems that boys have always loved transportation-themed toys. If these two examples are any indication, the added element of heroism only increased the appeal.

By the late 1800s, mass production of affordable cast iron, and even cheaper tin, put colorful, durable and boy-proof toys such as fire engines and other horse-drawn vehicles within the reach of almost every household. Though simply designed, most were made so that the horses moved in an apparent gallop, hurrying to the scene of the imaginary fire. Horse-drawn fire engines remained in use well into the 1900s. This early 20th-century toy fire engine was donated to the DAR Museum by Byron U. Richards Jr., who played with it as a child.

The wood and printed tin toy ship represents the USS Oregon, which in 1898 undertook a historic voyage from San Francisco around South America after the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor. Its two-month journey highlighted the need for a rapid response to such emergencies and helped increase support for the idea of a canal through Panama. The Oregon arrived in Cuba in time to assist in the primary naval battle of the Spanish-American War, the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, in July 1898. The Spanish-American War lasted only a few months, but patriotic fervor ran high, and toys such as this reflected a nationwide awareness of America's fight with Spain. Gift of Jacqueline Ernest Merritt.

More National Treasures

Sitting Pretty

Strange Brew

Tayloe Family Ties

Ornamental Trio

Reviving the Stone

A Record to Remember

Strong Set

Fashion Flashback

Let's Go Ride a Bike


Isn't It Romantic

A Rockin' Good Toy

The Mystery of Mother and Child

Keep Cool

Dress for the Ages

Historical Register

Banjo Time

Getting Warmer

Virginia Map Quest

Serve It Up

Greatest Toy on Earth

Dress for the Day

Boston Uncommon

A Teapot to Revere

Seats of Honor

Birthday Threads


Play On

Top Drawer

Burning Bright

Seated in Revolution

Something to Crow About

Sister Stitch

Tea Time

Capturing Cherubs

A Link to the Past

Brushes with Fame

Something Borrowed

Supper Is Served

Stately Seats

Heirloom High Chest

Making Beautiful Music

Forged From Fire

For Madame's Trousseau

Let It Out

Heavenly Harmonies

Priceless Pooch

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