Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Manufactured by:
The Ferdinand Strauss Corporation, American, 1914 - 1927  Search this
tin, oil paint
H x W x D: 7 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 5 in. (19.1 × 16.5 × 12.7 cm)
windup toys
Tin windup toy depicting two African American musicians; one figure plays the banjo while the other figure remains seated and plays the piano. The piano and chair that the pianist sits in have painted images of caricatured African Americans. The sheet music on the piano reads [DIXIE BLUES] at the top of each sheet. A tasseled blanket illustration drapes over the top of the piano and has black lettering which features prominently on the front of the piano. The text reads [HAM AND SAM/"THE MINSTREL TEAM"/TRADE MARK]. The banjo player, standing to the right of the piano player, is wearing red and white checkered pants, a green jacket with white and red trim, and a yellow top hat. The piano player is wearing a faded red and green outfit, with a red and green cap. A white sticker on the back of the piano in the bottom left corner reads, [LAST WOUND-UP/$650]. The Strauss Toys logo, a clown standing on a globe holding a banner aloft which reads [STRAUSS] with red text reading [TOYS] printed on the globe, is situated at the bottom center of the piano back. Beneath the logo is scripted black lettering which reads, [THE FERDINAND STRAUSS CORPORATION/New York, U.S.A./PATENTED BY UA M Co. OCT. 1921/OTHER PATENTS PENDING]. The metal loop on the PR side of the piano is used to wind the toy.
Objects depicting racist and/or stereotypical imagery or language may be offensive and disturbing, but the NMAAHC aims to include them in the Collection to present and preserve the historical context in which they were created and used. Objects of this type provide an important historical record from which to study and evaluate racism.
African American  Search this
Caricature and cartoons  Search this
Minstrel (Music)  Search this
Stereotypes  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Collection of James M. Caselli and Jonathan Mark Scharer
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Public Domain
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title:
Collection of James M. Caselli and Jonathan Mark Scharer
Toys and Games
Racist and Stereotypical Objects
Taking the Stage
On View:
NMAAHC (1400 Constitution Ave NW), National Mall Location, Culture/Fourth Floor, 4 054
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture