Alternative Name(s): Whipping Top

Made in the German Democratic Republic.

The Australian Children's Folklore Collection 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.
Top-spinning is an ancient activity. Tops dated at 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 comes from Germany, and is a whipping top. In Australia, a whipping top is sometimes referred to as a 'girl's' top, because they were mostly used by girls. Boys usually used peg tops. Whipping tops are started by winding the string (or lash if a whip is used) around the deep grooves. The top is held upright on the ground and the string pulled to start it spinning. The top is whipped with the string to keep it spinning, and can spin for a long time.

Physical Description

Small wooden top, conical in shape with a flat top. Top is decorated with a coloured decal, in the form of a pale yellow circle with a pink centre and red and bright yellow rings. There are 4 deep grooves around the body of the top, and the whole top has been stained blue. There is a small metal tack embedded in the point. Acknowledgement: Australian Children's Folklore Collection, Museum Victoria.

More Information