Child's Tool Chest

As illustrated in this child's tool chest from around 1900, children in the early 20th century encountered their society's gender expectations at a young age. The tool chest from R. Bliss & Co. declared carpentry to be boys' work. It came with a hinged lid and a sliding, removable top tray. Inside is a colored picture of boys building a house under a banner that reads "BLISS UNION TOOL CHESTS FOR BOYS." R. Bliss & Co., established in 1845, started as a tool company, making wooden screws and clamps for piano and cabinetmakers, before it became a leading manufacturer of toys by the turn of the 20th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
chest, tool
Date made
R. Bliss and Co.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
paint (overall material)
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
overall: 13 in x 17 in x 9 in; 33.02 cm x 43.18 cm x 22.86 cm
Place Made
United States: Rhode Island, Providence
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Family & Social Life
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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