August 28, 2007

Blockspotting: My Aunt's Sweet, Vintage Alphabet Blocks

Vintage Wood Alphabet Blocks, c.1950's, At Grandma's House

I still can't forget how nice these blocks felt, and how beautiful they are. On a visit to my grandmother's this summer, the kid got to play in the same basement toy closet I did [it used to be the coal room; there's still a piece or two of coal somewhere back in the corner, way out of anyone's reach.

When we broke out the big box of alphabet blocks, there were at least four sets [one for each kid; my mom's the oldest] jumbled together.

These are all that's left from my aunt's set. They're really, really beautiful. Hard, clear wood; the paint feels like stain, clear enough to let the grain show through. The letters are recessed a bit; the edges are nicely rounded, very smooth all over. I'd love to find out where these came from, or even to find a comparable set of new blocks. Any ideas?

Not quite related: Lois Lenski Blocks I Cannot Find [either]

9 Comments

Pretty nice blocks, I have no idea where you'd get more. One question thought, have you tested them to make sure the paint isn't lead-based?

[But dude, they were made in Amer-- that *would* explain the vibrant colors... -ed.]

Hey, maybe you could make your own? I am sure you could get to at least the letter K before moving on to another project ;)

[dude, I'm way ahead of you; first step was getting the picture off my phone; that took two months. -ed.]

I think you're the one who pointed me to these a whole long time ago:
http://www.unclegoose.com/BlocksMain.html

also american made. and if you go further down the page, they have them in a ton of different languages. I'm going to get some this week in german, and i can tell you later how they feel.

obviously not as nice and old school as the ones you showed.

[on the bright side, they probably have 100% less lead paint. -ed.]

I have a vintage set of that is composed of numbers, letters, math symbols and abstract shapes on different cubes (set of 16). They feel circa 1960's and they are very similar to the ones you show. My set is called 'ArithmeCubes and game to play with them.' The side of the box says they are 'a ScottForesman (no space between names) MathAid' The games are no longer with the set, so I am not sure what me and the kids are missing out on!

Could be an interesting search for vintage Scott, Foresman and Co, who knew!

When I get a chance, I'll send a pic if you like.

Julie

[sounds very interesting, thanks! -ed.]

i'm thinking about taking away the ten thousand other toys we have, just so the kids' blocks can get some love and a patina like this.

[assuming my aunt gnawed on these things, I have to say, she's always seemed normal enough to me. -ed.]

Hi! I found you while searching for Ostheimer wood toys. Did you ever duplicate these blocks? If so, I'd love to see pics! By the way, we got the Uncle Goose blocks, and they are nicer than any of the generic alphabet blocks I've seen but NOWHERE near as nice feeling as I can see that these must be! If you create them, you should open up shop on ebay. I'd buy a set!

http://www.johnlewis.com/230395003/Product.aspx
I know it's a British site but a big company like John Lewis should deliver overseas.
Not quite as rounded and shiny as your aunts set but I looked for a nice set of pretty wooden vintage blocks for ages and eventually settled with these! My daughter's 16 months old and she loves them to bits :)
Hope this helps.
D

I have a set of ArithmeCubes with the instructions. I got the blocks in a donation for charity, and noted them because they were unusual. I am still distributing the charitable items. The blocks are from 1968 and in beautiful, perfect condition. I am not sure what to do with them, as they may go unappreciated!

I happen to have a set of the Lois Lenski Blocks sitting here in front of me. I'm currently researching them to list on eBay. I'm a seller. Unfortunately, I only have 14 of them (out of 20 I believe).

I don't know if anyone still monitors this site or will even see this. If you do, you're welcome to contact me at the email address above.

Have a great day!

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