"Let us live for our children" (Richters Anchor Blocks, 1888)

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Promotional text transcribed from the Richter 1888 (US) catalogue:

Let us live for our children

THESE were the words addressed to all parents by FREDERICK FROEBEL, the founder of the Kindergarten-System, in the book he published in the year 1844, at Blankenburg near Rudolstadt (Germany). With a clear perception he recognized the necessity of beginning the education of children at a tender age, when their mind is more open to impressions, when they can be most easily trained to order and thus prepared for the teaching they will later on receive at school. He thought that the best way of attaining this end was in occupying the children with interesting games. Thus he invented the various games which are known in Germany by his name, and he carefully suited them to the different ages and degrees of intelligence of his young pupils. In consequence of the excellent results obtained with them in the Kindergartens, they soon became known in wider circles, and at the present time they are in use and highly appreciated far beyond the borders of Germany.

Among the different occupations practised by FROEBEL and his pupils, Building with blocks held the first place. Although FROEBEL could only give the children wooden blocks of primitive forms and of a few different sizes, and the models built with them were of the simplest kind, this occupation was the favorite one of the children. One of FROEBEL's friends who, for a number of years, had taken a prominent part in his labors, the well known savant, Dr. J. D. GEORGENs, and who only died a few years ago at Berlin, very soon recognized that a systematic development of this occupation would be most fruitful with respect to the education and further tuition of the children. Building was to become a stimulating pastime also for those children, who had, at it were, outgrown the Kindergarten. But Dr. GEORGENs was well aware that this elaborate idea could not be realized with the ordinary wooden blocks which had been in use until then, and it was he who induced Dr. RICHTER of Rudolstadt to undertake the manufacture of the STONE Building Boxes.

After they had worked together for some years, Dr. RICHTER at last succeeded in improving the building stones to such a degree that they left nothing to be desired. The high educational value, however, which his building boxes now possess, they have only attained since the introduction of the supplement   system invented by Dr. RICHTER, and the building designs which he has brought to such rare perfection.

The great importance which RICHTER's Stone Building Boxes (U. S. Patent 26th Oct. 1880) have for the youth is now widely acknowledged; they have won the most favorable opinions in all quarters.

Such unanimous approval is of rare occurrence, and it must be taken as a sure proof that with the introduction of the Stone Building Boxes a real want was met. We think, it may be said without boasting, that from Rudolstadt for the second time an invention of the utmost importance in the education of the young has made its journey round the world.

Only ten years have elapsed since then and the Anchor Stone Building Boxes have become famous, having been awarded the highest prizes at all the Exhibitions where they were represented. They are favorites not only with the children but with their parents too; all are fond of building with them. With such facts to guide us would not the question:

"What are we to give to our children?"

seem to be an idle one? Indeed it would from those who are acquainted with the Anchor Boxes, who have witnessed the extraordinary zeal with which the youngsters play with them, never getting tired of the game! They will give to their children an original box, or if they already own one, a supplement box will be added to it. They will assist their children in the construction of the models and they will find this occupation so interesting that they too look to the Anchor Box for recreation and amusement in their leisure time.

That such is the case, that very often grandmother, mother, and child all build together, will be seen from the accompanying testimonials. A glance at the various buildings illustrated in the present book will give the reader an idea of their beautiful execution and bear witness to the extraordinary care bestowed upon the building designs. The many advantages and the high importance of the Anchor Boxes have been acknowledged by the press of all countries. This is proved by the few paragraphs which we have chosen for publication out of the great number of testimonials in our possession.

The "Neue Freie Presse" of Vienna writes under date of 3rd December 1885:

"The average education of the present generation, which is undoubtedly far superior to what it used to be, can be very distinctly traced from the kind of presents which people select for christmas and birthdays &c. Among all classes of society we can see people striving to select presents for their children which afford them a pleasant and at the same time instructive occupation. This is why our pedagogues are endeavoring, since many years, to find out all sorts of games which should combine the above two qualities. But most of them have one fault which is always overlooked and that is: they do not interest children enough; they do not stick to it, as the "teacher" speaks too much out of them and because they give no opportunity to the child's fancy to develop itself, in short: they are void of anything stimulating for the child's mind. But it is quite different with an article we became acquainted with the other day. – we mean "RICHTER'S ANCHOR BOXES". This genuine game and pastime of world-wide renown has entirely conquered the hearts of our children, not through a luxurious appearance, like many other games, but through its inherent value, as there is no other game which they would welcome as an equally pleasant and interesting occupation. No doubt, it is but a very plain name the word "Anchor Box'. but never mind, – for those who have seen the zeal and pleasure with which the children put the colored stones together and build up magnificent groups of houses, castles, towers and so on, for those, we say, that word has a pleasant sound. One must have seen, how the most unruly children sit quietly at their table, whiling away some long winter-evening with building and one must have witnessed, how on holidays the father sits down with the children helping them to build; one must have seen all that, in order to be able to form an opinion of the highly educational value of the Anchor Boxes."

The "Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung" writes under date of 5th December 1885:

"ANCHOR BOXES. – As a very amusing and highly instructive, acceptable gift for festive occasions, "RICHTER's Anchor Box" as manufactured by F. AD. RICHTER & Co. of Rudolstadt, Nuremberg, Olten, Vienna, London and New York, deserves well to be recommended. Alike through their ingenious combination and their exceedingly tasteful execution, they compare most favorably with the obsolete wooden building blocks. These "Anchor Boxes", contain building material of real stone, in natural permanent colors, – brick red, sandstone yellow and slate blue; – the stones are most exactly and minutely formed and are supplied according to the various requirements. The books of designs and instructions, printed in four colors, accompanying each box, are executed in the same excellent style as the "Anchor Building Stones". Building with these stones is rendered an easy task by the accuracy of all the designs, which are made more attractive by the introduction of suitable landscapes and figures in them. Deserving of special distinction in these Anchor Boxes is the most admirable "Supplement System" connected therewith, which by further purchase of these well arranged stone assortments affords a continual increase in the building material. With each "Supplement Box" a book of new and more complicated designs is given, progressing with the always increasing amount of stones, whereby much larger and handsomer buildings can be constructed. This arrangement is also very practical from a pedagogic point of view, the pupil not receiving the book with the more difficult designs until he has sufficiently mastered the construction of the less complicated buildings".

The "Daily Graphic" of New York writes under date of 7th December 1887:

"Anchor Boxes, containing Stone Building Blocks are certainly striking novelties in the line of toys. They are made of a composition which is pressed and in every sense stone, having the weight and the color of the natural stone, brick red, sandstone yellow and slate blue. They are in various sizes and shapes, and are especially adapted to the building of houses, castles, towers, &c., patterns of which are given in the colored plates in the Book of Designs, accompanying each box. We can without hesitation heartily commend these as sure to please the children of all ages, for they seem to be the perfection of building blocks, and the result of a gradual improvement of the 'cob' houses and sticks of the former generation along the line of bright colored wooden blocks, &c., to these blocks of real building material".

SILVIA's Home Journal of December 1887:

"For a present for children nothing could be more admirable or more acceptable".

"The World" at New York of Oct. 30th 1887 writes:

"A precious treasure for families with children".

The "Illustrated London News" writes on the 5th March 1887, pag. 259:

"As in-door playthings for ingenious little children, toy bricks and tiles are commendable, and much is learnt by their use. Messrs. F. AD. RICHTER & Co., of Rudolstadt (in Thuringia), Olten (Switzerland), Nuremberg, Vienna, Rotterdam, London and New York, have introduced a great improvement, choosing a new material for these toys, fine composition stone, not painted but substance-colored, in imitation of yellow sandstone, red brick, and blue slate. The pieces are all cut with the nicest precision, in many shapes and sizes; the putting together of which is a good education for the tasteful eye, as well as for the mechanical faculty. Many directors of schools and teachers of art have testified their approbation of the "Anchor Boxes"; which have been adopted by the Crown Princess, and by other ladies of the highest rank, for use in the Imperial and Royal nurseries, and which might afford no unworthy amusement to persons of mature age. We have seen a large box, containing bricks, a few short pillars, and pieces that combine to form arches, from which many handsome architectural designs could be produced; and a small box of tiles for mosaic pavement, which easily falls into beautiful arrangements, the colors being subdued and harmonious with each other, and really equal those of natural material for the purpose. The substance is pleasant to handle, and will neither chip, shrink, nor wear, nor soften by wetting; nor can the coloring matter be rubbed or washed off. Boxes of twenty different assortments, the prices ranging with the size and weight and number of the pieces, any of if lost, can readily be replaced, are offered for sale, with interesting books of instruction".

The opinions of the Press

show the following: The Anchor Boxes are to be considered as a new stage in the development of FROEBEL's ideas; they are highly appreciated as an occupation by which the child's mind is early trained and led into the right direction. It is further acknowledged as a fact that the occupation of building is a good preventive against that craving for reading which so many children possess. The conviction has become more and more general that it is of no benefit to the children to give them too much to read as owing to the haste with which most books are read, the children get but a shallow understanding of what they read and besides, it makes them nervous. But the Anchor Boxes, on the contrary afford a beneficial rest to the child's mind, as the little builder knows too well that he does not reach his aim any sooner by too much haste; he must calmly consider everything, if he will solve his problem and this circumstance alone gives the Anchor Boxes the character of a most important means of education.

The "Neue Freie Presse" therefore makes special mention of the benefit which family-life in general derives from the occupation of building, – and we find, in fact, the Press of all countries unanimous in their praise of the unquestionable advantages of the Anchor Boxes.

After having given the opinions of these well known newspapers we wish to acquaint our readers with the fact that the value of the Anchor Boxes is also recognized in the highest circles, for instance they were bought by Her Majesty the


when she was still Crown Princess of Prussia, as well as by Field Marshall v. MOLTKE. Although these high personages have not communicated to us their opinions on the article, the fact of their having purchased it speaks sufficiently in its favor. It is also a great recommendation that in the year 1885


has given an order for an Anchor Box No. 35, for this monarch who is known as a good father will certainly only choose the best for his children.

What is necessary for the erection of a house?

In the first instance a plan and then the necessary material. – If a building is to be a success, the architect must go into every detail with the greatest care and forethought, otherwise in spite of good material, the house would not answer the expectations and would give general disappointment. If a good plan is requisite for a large building, it is all the more necessary for the erection of smaller structures, such as are expected to be made with the Anchor Boxes, because the children are not trained to the occupation. The factory has, for this reason, not spared any expense to produce the best designs possible and employs for that purpose, already for a number of years, eight architects, who do nothing but continually design now buildings for the Anchor Boxes. A mere glance at the models will suffice to convince the reader, that the former have been drawn with the greatest care and exactness. As the architects have not only to reckon with a given number of stones but also with their different shapes, it requires even for these professional men many years of training and practice, to bring models to such perfection as we offer them to the Public. For we do not consider it sufficient to create designs which can really be built with the stones of the respective boxes, but endeavor to prepare the models in such a way that the greatest possible number of stones can he used in their construction, and this is by no means an easy matter. It is therefore evident that the value of the boxes is materially enhanced through the respective books of designs, accompanying each Box, and Parents should therefore consider this circumstance when buying the article and not perhaps be tempted with the lower price of a box of bricks, containing no models at all, or designs that do not bear comparison with the original article. – One might as well try to compare inferior copies of pictures with the original works of old masters!

Even the best copies cannot be put on a par with them and this is also the case with the imitations of RICHTER's original building designs. Some of these models, especially in the larger boxes, may appear at first sight rather elaborate and difficult, but on closer examination and taking the accompanying Practical Architect to hand, it will be seen that no model is so difficult, that if could not be constructed, after some practice, – by every intelligent child.

Secondly it is the material, which has to be considered. The stones ought to be of a hard and heavy substance, that will stand any amount of wear and does not break, and their shapes should be so chosen as to admit of manifold use. The surface ought not to be too smooth, as the stones would in that case frequently shift, thus making the erection of a larger building almost a trial of patience for the child. The heavy weight of the stones is necessary to give sufficient strength to the building. All these qualities have, through many years of perseverance and labor, been attained and brought to perfection in the Original Anchor Building Stones and we are glad to see through the continually increasing sale of our production that the Public duly appreciate our article and are not easily induced to buy any worthless imitation that may be offered to them by unscrupulous vendors.

The great popularity of the Anchor Boxes is consequently only due to the conscientious, careful, and unique mode of manufacture; it is a proof that the public appreciate these qualities, that they do not always give the preference to the cheapest article, and that the original article is preferred to an imitation.

After the kind reader has patiently followed us up to this, he will agree with us, if we recommend to all parents our Anchor Boxes as the most suitable and useful article they could choose for their children as an opportune Christmas-, Birthday- or Prize-gift.

— , -, , Richters Catalogue (US), , 1888