Item #17604 Alphabet & Kindergarten Building Blocks. No. 4 . [Set of twenty Milton Bradley Co. building blocks.]. Froebel Gifts.

Alphabet & Kindergarten Building Blocks. No. 4 . [Set of twenty Milton Bradley Co. building blocks.]

Springfield, MA: M[ilton] Bradley & Co., [n.d., ca. early 1870s]. The twenty alphabet blocks preserved here do not seem to correspond with the set named on the box label. According to Bradley’s Catalogue and Price List of Games and Home Amusements for 1873-4, Set 4 of the Milton Bradley Alphabet & Kindergarten Building Blocks contained thirty blocks: “Roman alphabets, large and small letters, numerals and animals. Blocks painted, black walnut box,” (p. 22). The present set of blocks do seem to be a product of the Milton Bradley Co., and resemble the blocks illustrated in Bradley’s Catalogue, but probably originate from one of the other six sets in the Alphabet & Kindergarten Building Blocks series. Twenty color-painted blocks (2 x 1 x ”) enclosed in wooden box (7 x 5 x 1 ”). On one side of each block is an illustration of an animal and on the other is a letter of the alphabet, in both upper- and lowercase, that corresponds with the animal pictured (e.g., R and rat). With duplicates of three blocks (Q/quail, W/water hog, and T/tiger), plus one block that seems to be misprinted with “D” on one side and “horse car” on the other. Lacking ten letters (C, E, H, I, N, O, S, V, Y, and Z). Lip missing from sliding lid and some rubbing and cracking to the paper onlay. Advertisement leaf, partially rubbed away, pasted onto verso of lid. Edgewear to blocks, with some fading to the paint. Despite general wear, the box and blocks are well-preserved. A good set of rare building blocks that predate the popularization of the kindergarten concept in the United States. Black walnut box with color-printed paper onlay to sliding lid. Item #17604

The present sent of blocks is notable in large part because it predates the 1876 Centennial Exhibition and the corresponding explosion in popularity of the kindergarten concept in the United States. Milton Bradley published the first American book on the kindergarten, a translation of Edward Wiebé’s The Paradise of Childhood, in 1869 and within the next few years was producing activity kits based on the Gift designs of Friedrich Froebel (1782 - 1852). In large part due to the popularity of Milton Bradley’s Froebelian materials, “The Forms selected by Froebel and his followers in the 1850s and 1860s thus became a kind of international standard for use in schools of all countries,” (Brosterman, p. 99). Froebel’s ideas were further amplified at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, which included the “Kindergarten Cottage,” an exhibit of work done by young Boston students who were engaging with Froebel’s curriculum in one of the first kindergarten classrooms in the country (Brosterman, p. 10). (Brosterman, Norman. Inventing Kindergarten, 1997.).

Price: $750.00

See all items by