John Lloyd Wright
might not have the renown for the architectural creativity of his father, but John found inspiration in his father's work and designed toys that are still being made today. I'm talking about Lincoln Logs
As currently told, John was inspired by the "earthquake-proof" foundation of interlocking beams that his father used in the design for the second iteration
of the Imperial Hotel
, which Frank intended to "float the building upon" the soft mud present below the building site, as "a battleship floats on salt water"
(Google books preview). FLW's design survived one earthquake in 1923, shortly after the completion of the hotel, but settled unevenly into the soft subsoil
, and the hotel was demolished in 1968. It was replaced by a modern, un-FLW design
, but if you want a further peak at the prior design, here is a virtual archive of artifacts and reference material
Back to the world of wooden toys, John Lloyd Wright's design was not the first log cabin type toy. In fact, one of the earliest examples, Ellis, Britton & Eaton's Log Cabin Playhouse
, dates back to 1865. Other contemporaries of Lincoln Logs include American Logs by Halsam
and Frontier Logs by Ideal
, now made by Poof-Slinky
, but John's Lincoln Logs were most successful (related: Lincoln Log ads from 1926, '28, and '36
). Lincoln Logs were also some of the first toys advertised on TV
, with commercials appearing during shows like "Pioneer Playhouse" and "Davy Crockett," which saw to interest in the wooden toys peaking at that time. They were marketed as educational toys, improvements to basic building blocks
In late 1949 John Lloyd Wright patented "Wright Blocks,"
a more modern take on the linking logs of old, as seen in this blog
and discussed in this FLW forum
, where you can see some more detailed images of the blocks and the packaging.
If you have Lincoln Logs around and need some inspiration to start building, K'Nex* has 11 design plans online
(sadly, no designs for Abraham Lincoln's cabin or Uncle Tom's cabin, which were supposedly included in the original kit), and you can preview the Lincoln Logs Building Manual
(Google books) with a bunch more ideas.
For the the true DIY folks, you can make your own Lincoln Logs
. And if you have access to a 3D printer, you can make Lincoln Logs and LEGO bricks play together with interesting joiner pieces
* Lincoln Logs have been made by five different companies
, starting with the Red Square Toy Company, which was bought by Playskool in 1943, who sold the rights to Milton Bradley in 1968. The rights were then sold to Hasbro in 1984, who sold the license for the manufacturing K’NEX in 1991.