Jumping jack (toy)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Jumping jack (disambiguation).
A jumping-jack toy
A dandy jumping jack toy

The jumping-jack is a toy whose origins date back thousands of years. The jointed jumping-jack figure is a cross between a puppet and a paper doll. The figures are generally made from wood and their limbs are jointed and tied to a pull string. When the string is pulled and released, the arms and legs move up and down.


Although the jumping-jack is popularly thought of as a European toy, ivory dancer figures made to spin by pulling their strings, which were found at the archaeological site El Lisht and date back to ancient Egyptian times, are considered to be among the earliest forms of this family of mechanical toys.

In the mid-1700s, jumping-jack figures known as “pantins” were popular among the French nobility.

In 1832 the Hampelmann was created by Carl Malss as a figure for the burlesque at Frankfurt. Later the jumping-jack toy became known as Hampelmann in German-speaking countries [1] and were manufactured in the Erzgebirge mountain range in Germany.


Michael Quinion of World Wide Words has written an article about the word quocker-wodger, defined as "a wooden puppet on a string". (Quinion writes on international English from a British viewpoint.)


  1. ^ Dtv-lexikon, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich, 1971, vol. 8, p. 169

External links[edit]