Vintage & Antique Spinning Tops

Spinning tops have been discovered around the world in cultures thought to be completely independent of each other. They are used in a variety of games around the world. Many children and adults find collecting these vintage and antique toys a satisfying hobby.

How does a spinning top work?

There are many different types of spinning toys, but all spin on a point. Some notable antique kinds work in a variety of ways:

  • Twirler tops: Twist the stem and watch them spin.
  • Supported tops: Pull the rope on the long stem to make this kind spin.
  • Whip tops: Give them a whack with the whip to keep them spinning.
  • Throwing or peg tops: Throw these toys at the end of a rope to watch them spin.
What kinds are there?

Children often love pulling the string on a peg top, while other kids enjoy keeping the toy spinning by hitting the top with a lashed whip. Others like listening to a spinning top with holes cut into it; as it spins, it hums or makes music. There's also the rattleback spinning top that spins only in one direction. This type of toy rattles to a stop when kids try spinning it the other way. A tippe spinning top appears to change directions while spinning.

What games can you can play with them?

There are many things you can do with them:

  • Dreidels and Perinola:Dreidels are spinning toys that have Hebrew letters on them. Each of the four sides of this top has a different letter. The same type of toy is used in a betting game in Europe. A variation of it is also played in Latin America, where a Perinola spinning top is used.
  • Bambaram: Children play with bambarams in India and Pakistan and the way they do so is simple. First, a rope is wound around the top. Then the top is throw, causing it to spin. Before it wobbles and falls over, the children try to pick it back up by looping the cord around the thinnest part of the top.
  • Levitation: A levitation spinning top consists of a permanent, magnetic ring and a corresponding magnetic base plate. Kids can compete to keep the top levitating and revolving in the air for the longest time.
  • Teetotum: A teetotum spinning top is like a single dice on top of a stick. One side of the dice has the letter T on it, allowing a player to take all the other players tokens when the T lands facing up.