September 14, 2006

Fine, I'll Post Them. Spectacular Creative Playthings Wooden Family By Antonio Vitali


As I've come clean before, sometimes I like to post great kid-related stuff for sale on eBay--and sometimes, I like to post some great kid-related stuff after I've scooped it up for myself.

For a couple of days now, I've been trying to convince myself that this absolutely spectacular-looking Wooden Sculptured Family set, made by Antonio Vitali for Creative Playthings, was in the latter category, so I've kept quiet about it.

But as more bidders jump into the ring, and it's obvious that this very rare, complete set--with the box--in "virtually unused" condition is not an overlooked gem, I've basically given up hope of winning it myself. So I'll wish someone else good luck--and hope they'll think about lettin' a blogger his kid come and visit the toys sometime.

Here's what Prof. Amy Ogata had to say about these Vitali toys:

In 1954 Swiss sculptor and toymaker Antonio Vitali designed a series of wooden Playforms for Creative Playthings. Vitali worked with Caplan and Barenholz [CP's founders] to adapt the aesthetics of his hand-carved toys and sculptures to a specially designed mechanical lathe that could produce the small animals, vehicles, and figures in sufficient quantities.

Featuring smooth, undulating, unpainted surfaces that formed to a child's hand, Vitali's toys reinforced the assocation between visual abstraction, tactile appeal, and imaginative development. By eliminating details, such as facial features, doors, or separate parts, Vitali's designs put hte visual and intellectual emphasis on teh form and the natural grain of the wood, reinforcing the company's ideal of freeing the child's imagination through abstraction.

Creative Playthings was one of several postwar toy companies to empahsize natural materials and form, but the sculptural qualities of the Vitali designs gained the attention of professional designers who embraced both the artistic qualities and the theories behind them.

Art and design periodicals, such as Interiors and Arts and Architecture, promoted the Vitali toys (paraphrasing the company literature) as a "bold experiment in art education. These toys embody good design, sturdiness, and play value." [paragraphing added]


Creative Playthings Vintage Sculptured Wooden Family is currently $51. Auction ends Sept. 17th
[update: they sold for freakin' $229!] [ebay]
Previously: Discussion of Amy F. Ogata's paper, Creative Playthings: Educational Toys and Postwar American Culture

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