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Toys are often not so much lost as left behind. The toy is placed in position as an active component in a game, when a new idea or pressing engagement (such as Mum calling) interrupts play. Time slips past... That particular game is never resumed, and the toy is never retrieved. It is unintentionally abandoned to become part of the archaeological record.
Every toy is special, and each has its own story, a story that is usually lost in the process of growing up. But this toy, through the mutually beneficial combination of archaeology and history, carries its own insight into the past. The Matchbox model of a Mercedes-Benz 300E is in the livery of a German police car and, at the time the toy was made (1986), the property where it was found was owned by the Avon & Somerset Police Authority - a purpose-built home for the family of a police officer.
We shall probably never know the precise circumstances of this toy's role in the family, although it is possible someone visiting this museum will recognise it and remember. But it is a reminder that in archaeology we are always dealing with people, their hopes and dreams, and joys and fears, of both adults and of children.
That this item was made in Thailand is a reminder of how trade has developed over the years. Not only luxury goods, but trivial objects were being routinely transported around the globe.
Find spot: Hampstead Road, Brislington, Bristol. ST 612710
Exhibit contributed by Kai Taylor
Text written by Ken Taylor, in 2011
Photographer: Ken Taylor
Acquisition number: 110521a3