Meet Dobbin, the 120-year-old Rocking Horse

If you’ve been following my blog from the very beginning, you might have seen photos of old Dobbin like on this post here.

The story is, my husband’s grandfather bought Dobbin the rocking horse in 1929, when his dad was only about a few months old.  It was second-hand and needed a lot of repair, which his grandfather did, so we don’t really know whether it is Victorian or Edwardian, my husband thinks he is about 120 years old!

Little T’s dad has loads of memories riding him and stuffing his mouth with cake his Nana had baked for them.  She was a great cook, but not much of a baker, so her cakes were really (in my husband’s own words) “rock-hard-solid”.

And now it’s actually nice to know that he is very much loved by little T, who thankfully doesn’t stuff his mouth with cake I’ve made, or at least I haven’t caught her doing it yet!

As you can see, he is huge and heavy!  He must weigh a ton.  I often wonder about his first owners.  They must have been rich kids, because when rocking horses first came out, they were made specifically for people with money.  The ones who didn’t have much, I’m afraid wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

It must have been then given to someone, and that someone, passed it on to someone, before ending up in a second-hand shop which little T’s great-grandfather ended up buying Dobbin for his own son and now his great-grandaughter enjoys riding him and she does it really well!  My mother-in-law once said, that she’s never seen her other grandchildren ride Dobbin the way little T does.  She likes to pretend she’s off on an adventure, and when her other little friends come over, they ride him too.

And it’s not just them, when little T is away, her other toys like to ride him too and go off in their own adventures.

In spite his age, Dobbin, the 120 year old rocking horse, can still ride like the wind!

Linking this post up with Sonya (The Ramblings of A Formerly Rock n Roll Mum) and Keynco’s Oh You Pretty Things (Heirloom Tradition).  Do click on the logo, to see what the others are up to.

 Do you have any heirlooms in your family?


  1. naptimethoughts

    That is an amazing rocking horse. I loved horses when I was little– I would have killed for a big nice rocking horse like dobbin. Unfortunately, in America we only get cheaply made Chinese imports. Ahhh, toxic plastic. Smells like home!

    • I love rocking horses too. They make them back home in the Phil, but not as huge as this one! Only small ones, but they were also made of wood 🙂 Dobbin is huge though, he occupies a lot of space in little T’s room, but I don’t think she’d ever want to part with him 😉

  2. I picked up a rockinghorse for our kids which is covered in kangaroo skin. It wasn’t terribly old but he is now looking tired and yet I can’t part with him and he has moved to different rooms in the house and he’s now in our family room where he at least gets ridden although the kids have used him to hurt each other a bit too. They can give a good “kick”. You rockinghorse is just beautiful and would have so many stories to te,,. I wonder if he’d rather be a race horse? xx Rowena

    • Wow, covered in kangaroo skin? That’s something! Oh you must keep it in the family, it would make a great heirloom too in the future 😉

  3. Kate @ Did That Just Happen?

    Oh that is so cute! My great grandfather made me a cradle, and then just about every kid that came after me used it – including my own Mr. T. It’s pretty neat to have those things around!

    • OH definitely! That’s a must-keep! 🙂 Your great grandfather’s cradle will be ready for the next generation 😉

  4. Keynko (@Keynko)

    He is very handsome! My friend had one of these when we were little and I was sooo jealous! I’m sure he has many more adventures to come, thank you for joining in!

    • Yes, I’m sure of that too. We need to do a bit of repair on him though 😉 You’re most welcome!

  5. Wow! What an heirloom! I may be a lot like your husband’s Nana. Not that I’m a great cook, but my cakes are also very popular for the same reason. 🙂

    • I’m sure you are a good cook Jhanis! Your dishes always starts me craving for food back home and this is only through your posts! 😉

  6. Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One

    What a wonderful thing to have in the family – a real treasure and I’m rather envious, I would have loved this myself as a child.

  7. Oh wow isn’t he a beauty – lucky Little T. We have a rocking horse, or at least technically we do, he’s too big for our house so he lives with Gran and Grandad who found him in a second hand shop and brought him home to do up for the girls- including s new tail made from a mop!!

    • Same with Dobbin, he’s huge! … Oh that’s lovely, I’m sure your horse will also become an heirloom in the future 😉 x

  8. Snapdragons

    This is a Paul Leach horse- and in the past two years or so there has been a real ‘surge’ in the desirability of these.
    Great shame he has been painted in a modern manner- had he been original paint, he’d have been very valuable indeed in the current market.
    You can email privately if you like for more info.

    • Yes, he’s been painted twice. My husband’s grandpa bought him secondhand in 1928. He spruced him up a bit. Then in the 90s his dad painted it again. Thanks for the info though.

      • Snapdragons

        He is about 1890, maybe a tad older, but he cannot be older than 1880 as the stand he is on was not invented before that date.
        They are very beautiful horses, and I hope you never sell him, but keep him in your family.
        I am a collector [not a dealer] of old rocking horses, and see the stories that get told, and fibs told, so the unscrupulous can get a valuable horse from somebody.

  9. Snapdragons

    That is super! I’ll have a guess at the price paid……probably less that £2? [a lot of money in the 1920’s]
    When new, they sold for about £5 , he looks about 48” tall to the top of the head from the floor?

  10. Snapdragons

    25/- £1.25p That was indeed a lot of money then- but what a great purchase!
    and he is worth a lot now.
    It is always deeply sad when families sell their old horses.
    We have one that belonged to a ‘wealthy’ family in Ireland, and when they had no children left [Their valiant Sons were killed fighting in War] the family gave their beautiful horse to their Chauffeur for his little girls.
    The little girls grew up, and the chauffeurs’ wife, then elderly, needed an eye operation, and sold the horse to pay for her operation to be done privately.
    Very sad, but the horse avoided the dealers, and remained [and will remain] in the UK.
    There is a terrible trend now for victorian rocking horses to be plundered from the UK and shipped by the crateload to OZ and NZ and ‘Murica.
    England is being plundered for rocking horses like at no other time- I have saved a few from the fate of export.
    Hope you won’t sell yours, and hope he stays in your family 🙂
    We have one of this type, with heavily carved legs and rump, and the beautiful heads that the maker used to do.

  11. Snapdragons

    PS, you were right, the original owners would have been wealthy. The horses sold for about £5, a fortune then for a working man, who used to maybe earn £1 a week, after taxes, with a family, rent, coal and food to buy.
    The maker’s family was desperately poor at the beginning of his life, living in the worst rookery possible. But as time went on, he employed more men, and life was more comfortable.
    the reason these horses have suddenly become ”popular” is purely that the ‘foreigners’ deem a horse of this make to be a ‘must have’.

  12. Snapdragons

    I sincerely hope your future grandchildren will love Dobbin too… my son is a man of 30 ish, but loves the old wooden horses of his childhood and says he won’t be selling them off either.

    The saddest story I heard re. a historic family toy was a Steiff bear who had been given to a little girl in 1905. The bear remained in the family, and even went to an old people’s home with his later family owner.
    He was stolen, as the care home staff knew that ”Steiff” were ‘valuable’….but a campaign by the local paper had him returned one night…Dumped on the doorstep by the guilty thief.
    His then owner died, but left the lovely old bear to her granddaughter.
    The 18 yr old girl , giddy at the thought of money, sold him.
    Utterly sad, and for the few thousand she got, was it really worth it?
    To sell off a strong link with one’s family like that?

    The Irish horse, he was sold only after consultation with the entire family- it was sad, but he isn’t too far away, and we still keep in touch with the old owners 🙂

    Happy Christmas 🙂

    • How interesting – these stories you’ve shared with me. My husband and I are both very sentimental about family heirlooms, though we really only have Dobbin and loads of books! My husband bought me a Victorian writing slope which I hope my daughter will also love it as much as I do. Don’t know the history behind that one, but I’m hoping it will start with me and my daughter. Happy Christmas too!

  13. Snapdragons

    Re Heirlooms from family, the most special tend to be not the most valuable, but the most ‘special’ in human terms.
    My mum has a couple of amateur watercolour/gouache paintings of the view from an old Mayfair flat window after the Blitz.
    Her grandmother painted them from life, and the devastation is evident- mum says she remembers the view in real life, both before and after the Blitz.
    On the back is pencilled ”Oh where is the happy party now?” as the Mayfair house that had a direct hit used to have lively parties.
    Mum has a Farnell teddy, he was second hand in the 1940’s, and he has been passed down from child to child, and has been much patched, and has lost his eyes.
    My son’s wife bought me a little ‘beech’ horse for Christmas, of the type that Ursula Moray Williams featured in her book ”the little wooden horse”- he is beautiful in his simplicity- one wonders who sells these lovely things off so cheaply [he was but £26!] that were once cherished by a child in 1890’s.
    Families are strange things- there was an antique programme ”flog it”, and a family member sold off some wonderful postcards and letters from WW1 in a large album.
    Another member of that family was so distressed, she bid for them at the auction- and they made £660.
    She won them.
    But in our family, there are several people who have a deep love for the old items, and others who would just sell the family things to buy some new bit of technology!
    It is a shame that museums can’t be left special things- sadly many museums don’t have the space.
    A museum near to us has lots of old toys in storage, donated by families, and they don’t have the display space.
    Happy New Year 🙂

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