Lincoln Logs are a children's building toy invented by John Lloyd Wright (1892–1972) around 1916 and first marketed to the public in 1924. From their introduction, each set contained a number of wooden logs in various lengths that could be fitted together to make log houses and other buildings. This simple toy proved so successful that by the end of the 1990s more than a half-million sets were sold every year.
John Lloyd Wright was the second son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), best known for his Prairie Style architecture and unique houses. John learned design by working with his father on the Midway Gardens in Chicago, Illinois, and on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. In Japan, Wright saw firsthand how the Japanese used wood construction in a very intricate and beautiful way. Wright also loved children and their toys and games. When he was twenty-five years old, Wright came up with the idea for Lincoln Logs, a simple kit with miniature wooden logs. He chose the name Lincoln Logs after President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). Lincoln was famous for his frontier boyhood and for chopping logs to build houses. Wright knew that Lincoln's appeal as a national hero would help make his kits popular. Early packages featured a picture of Lincoln and showed how to make a frontier log cabin.
Lincoln Logs were especially popular in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Parents liked them because they were educational toys. Kids had to think hard about how to use them, and designing log buildings required lots of creative thought. Kids liked them because they could be arranged in so many different ways and they could always have fun playing with them. Along with LEGO (see entry under 1950s—Sports and Games in volume 3) building blocks and Tinkertoys (see entry under 1910s—Sports and Games in volume 1), Lincoln Logs were one of the most popular and successful toys of the century.
For More Information
Brown, Conrad Nagel. "Lincoln Logs." Inland Architect (Vol. 115, no. 4, 1998): p. 116.
"Lincoln Logs." YesterdayLand.http://www.yesterdayland.com/popopedia/shows/toys/ty1036.php (accessed January 24, 2002).