Summary

Alternative Name(s): Peg top

Wooden spinning top, conical with a flat base. Bought in 1963 by Dr Dorothy Howard in a public market in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The top is known in Mexico as a 'Trompo'. In Australia it is known as a peg top, or what is sometimes referred to as a 'boy's' top because peg tops were mostly used by boys. Girls usually used whipping tops. To spin the top, the string is wound around the body of the top and the end held while the top is thrown downwards. The string is jerked to set the top spinning.

This object forms part of the Dorothy Howard Collection, contained within the Australian Children's Folklore Collection (ACFC). The ACFC is unique in Australia, documenting contemporary children's folklore across Australia and in other countries reaching back to the 1870s. The Collection has a strong component of research material relating to Victoria. See Supp File 99.01.

Physical Description

Wooden spinning top, conical with a flat base. The body is decorated with five narrow engraved lines running in concentric circles around the top. At the pointed end of the top, a metal spindle is attached as the spinning mechanism. The wood is not stained or varnished.

Significance

Top-spinning is an ancient activity. Tops dating from 1200-1400BC were excavated in Egypt, and they are often mentioned in classical literature. They are found throughout the world and used by adults and children, in rituals as well as for games of skill. There are many different kinds of tops, and the way they are used depends on their size and shape. This top is known in Mexico as 'Trompo'. In Australia it is known as a peg top, or what is sometimes referred to as a 'boy's' top because peg tops were mostly used by boys. Girls usually used whipping tops. To spin the top, the string is wound around the body of the top and the end held while the top is thrown downwards. The string is jerked to set the top spinning.

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