GIANT PICTURE PRINTER (An ARNOLD ARNOLD Toy)
24 stamps, 4 stamp pads and a collection of papers housed in a printed box, 13 x 21 inches. The box has general surface soil and wear, a few areas of abrasion around the edges, panels a little askew but very solid. The ink pads inside the tins have disintegrated, leaving them a little rusty, and at some point the blue ink bled on some of the papers (which get stashed in a hidden compartment underneath the inks). The kit is used—about seven of the supplied papers are stamped—and has ink smudges, trial stampings on the underside of the lid, and expected ink staining on the stamps themselves, but is miraculously complete.
A thrilling addition to the lineage of educational printing toys, the Arnold Arnold GIANT PICTURE PRINTER married the coolest of modern design with educational play. The stamp designs include unusual curvy forms and textured patterns, like brick and wood grain, that provided a palette of shapes for children to combine. Instead of directions, brief blurbs appear on different areas of the box suggesting ways the stamps can be used, like how a single shape can create different representational pictures (“Notice that the stamp that prints smoke can make many other things… waves for the ship or a mustache for a funny face”). He also encourages inventive exploration: “Print what you know, have seen, read or heard about. It need not be real, as long as it gives you pleasure or helps you tell a story."
Arnold Ferdinand Arnold (1921-2012), was a German-born Jewish polymath whose family fled to England during Hitler’s rise in the 1930s and was educated at Bedales School. Living in New York in the 1950s and ’60s, he achieved success as a designer, exhibiting at MoMA on multiple occasions, including a 2-person show with Joseph Zalewski, Premium Toys Designed for Industry (1953).
Arnold published books in both traditional and experimental forms, including How to Play with Your Child and The Arnold Arnold Book of Toy Soldiers, the latter of which married the book form to his paper-made toys. He focused primarily on the topic of early childhood education through play and published a syndicated column in the Chicago Tribune. Writing became his main focus after returning to England in the 1970s, largely leaving the graphic design world behind. He expanded to topics in science and cybernetics in his later years.
His first wife was photographer Eve Arnold. After they separated, (she refused to grant him a divorce for 30 years), he became partners with noted children’s illustrator Gail E. Hailey. Though Eve and Gail both achieved more notoriety, Arnold’s graphic work remains visible in the public sphere, including his series of artwork for EPIC records and the iconic swirling Parker Brothers logos—and this GIANT PRINTER, a remarkable survivor.