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Lincoln Logs


LINCOLN LOGS. John Lloyd Wright (1892–1972), son of noted "Prairie Style" architect Frank Lloyd Wright, invented Lincoln Logs in 1916, began manufacturing them in Chicago, and patented them in 1920. The sets of tiny, notched, redwood logs fostered construction skills while playing on the pioneer myth in an era of rugged individualism popularized by Theodore Roosevelt. With the "Lincoln Cabin" trademark, Wright advertised them as "America's National Toys." Yet, he got the idea from the earthquake-resistant foundation of Tokyo's Imperial Hotel designed by his father.

Wright recognized the sudden popularity of the stone-mason Charles Pajeau's Tinkertoys (1913), invented in Evanston, Illinois. Their colored sticks and eight-holed spools were used to build abstract constructions. The toys came packaged in cylindrical boxes for storage, and by 1915, had sold 900,000 sets. With the rise of new, mass-produced, and nationally marketed toys aimed at teaching construction skills in the Progressive Era, both became classics.

Wright expanded his line of miniature construction materials in the 1920s with Lincoln Bricks, Timber Toys, and Wright Blocks, some sets even included mortar and wheels. Like the contemporary invention of the Erector Set, Lincoln Logs appealed to parents and educators who heeded John Dewey's dictum that playing is essential to learning.

Blanche M. G.Linden

See alsoErector Sets ; Toys and Games .

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