3-2 | Little Big World: Collecting Louis Marx and the American Fifties

Book Review

Little Big World: Collecting Louis Marx and the American Fifties

Jeffrey Hammond
Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010. 118 pp. $22.95 paper. ISBN: 978158729910

by Gary Cross

First Paragraph:

English professor Jeffrey Hammond is a brave man to share with us his reveries on his 1950s childhood memories of playing with play sets made by Louis Marx & Company. He is braver still for revealing his thoughts and feelings about collecting and playing with them again fifty years later. The confessional character of this short book adds a charm and personal meaning to toy play in the cold war era. It also says much about the dynamics of the modern collector and even what it may mean to "return" and transform that play in the fullness of maturity. Hammond has an unusual knack for weaving bits of toy histories, 1950s culture and politics, and the sociology and theory of collecting into a series of imaginative tales about him and his desktop collection of plastic figures. He recognizes the modern quest for arresting time with childhood memories and understands the therapeutics of reviving such memories.