Alphabet & Kindergarten Building Blocks
A very early example of kindergarten accoutrement manufactured by Milton Bradley. Original wood box with sliding lid, 5.75 x 7 x 1.75 inches, labeled as set no 4½. The lip of the sliding panel is missing and there is some overall crackling or stress to the box, rubbing and wear to the blocks, but overwhelmingly well-preserved. With twenty original Milton Bradley ABC blocks, though not the original blocks for this set. According to Bradley's Catalogue and Price List of Games and Home Amusements for 1873-4, set no 4½ comprised "30 blocks. Containing Roman alphabets, large and small letters, numerals and animals. Blocks painted, black walnut box." (p.22) There are also several pages from the 1872-73 Bradley's Holiday Annual... catalogue with illustrations of the blocks in action (see photos). The present blocks are contemporaneous or slightly later, though not all letters of the alphabet are represented here. Bradley sold his kindergarten blocks in various quantities and combinations of animals, numbers, and letters represented in Roman and script alphabets.
In addition to their inclusion in early Milton Bradley catalogs, the lithograph on the lid is signed "M. Bradley & Co. Lith.," confirming its early make and establishing the set predated Bradley's success at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where his products were featured in the "Kindergarten Cottage" exhibit, and which jumpstarted Bradley's success in manufacturing kindergarten materials.