It is said that the first rocking horse dates back to 400 BC ancient Greece. These were probably used much like the wheeled wooden horses during the Middle Ages when knights practiced their jousting and swordsmanship while sitting astride these early versions of wooden rocking horses. And wooden wheeled toy horses were found in the Egyptian pyramids.
Rocking horse toys did not appear until the 1600’s. These simple toys were made of wooden boards, unadorned yet still beloved by children as much then as they are now. Early versions of the wooden horses were carved by carpenters and amateur and professional woodcarvers.
It is believed that they were used to develop children’s balance for riding real horses.
It wasn’t until the Victorian era that the rocking horse became a work of art. The horses at that time were crafted by hand with attention to detail and color.
During the 1800’s many family run businesses arose in England devoted to creating children’s rocking horses.
One of the earliest established manufacturers was J. Collinson and Sons who began crafting their horses in 1836. The popularity of their rocking horses was given a huge boost in 1851 when Queen Victoria visited their workshop.
The Collinson horses were painted in a very bold style of dappling, with distinctive painting around the eyes. For the eyes, they used “pin” eyes instead of glass ones. The stand pillars were rectangular with a diamond shaped piece of hardboard pinned over the nail heads on the top rail.
Queen Victoria chose a dappled grey horse sealing its popularity with the children in Victorian England.
Sadly, J. Collinson and Sons closed its doors in December 1993 after creating rocking horses for five generations of Collinson’s.
Many of the original horses have survived and can be bought from numerous antique dealers throughout the UK.
Modern rocking horses still flourish and are a favorite of children everywhere. And choosing wisely, the rocking horse you buy today will be a collectable tomorrow.
This Antique Style Wooden ”Coat of Arms” Decorative Rocking Horse 30″ is hand-carved with striking detail. The saddle and the coat of arms appear “draped” over the side of the horse through fine carving and hand-painted colors that almost give them the look of real leather, a testament to the skill of the artisan who created it. Red and green hand-painted highlights add a splash of color making it a beautifully balanced work of art.