M986.53.1.1-2 | Building blocks

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Building blocks
1900-1920, 20th century
4.5 x 13.5 x 18.5 cm
Gift of Mrs. Norton A. Fellowes
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Building blocks (2) , Toy (148)
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Keys to History

Building blocks were popular toys in the second half of the 19th century, a time of great interest in educational toys for children.

Canadians imported toys from England, France, Germany and the United States before starting to manufacture them here; between 1860 and 1915 there were some 20 Canadian toy manufacturers.

Like today, children's play was seen as preparation for the adult world, and toys reflected that world on a smaller scale. The pieces of this building-block set take the form of various architectural elements and can be stacked to form walls, windows and doorways.

  • What

    This box containing building blocks has a chromo-lithographic print on the lid suggesting what can be made with the blocks inside.

  • Where

    This box of "Anchor Blocks" was made in Germany.

  • When

    In the late 19th century building blocks such as these were popular educational toys for children.

  • Who

    Building blocks such as these would have been considered useful in developing a child's dexterity and imagination.