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Blocks

Wooden blocks have been a part of childhood since the 17th century when English philosopher John Locke talked about them in a statement he gave in 1693. The statement spoke about how children would enjoy learning the alphabet more by using the alphabet nursery blocks common during the time period. In 1798, a book entitled “Practical Education” mentioned wooden blocks, calling them rational toys to educate children on spatial relationships and making different parts into a whole.

Blocks were first mass produced by S. L. Hill, of Brooklyn, New York. Hill attained a patent for ornamenting wood, which was a coloring of block surfaces prior to embossing them and adding a final coloration. Beginning in the 1850s, companies began making terracotta toy block sets that created structures as well as designs. Today, collectors seek out wooden block sets in their original wooden boxes, especially those with attached graphic labels.

Many collectors search for toy blocks from early paper-lith blocks with brilliant animals and stylized alphabets to boxed sets with stunning colors and ornate boxes. They are prominently collected by those who admire antique children’s objects. Those who collect blocks often incorporate them into country homes, children’s rooms, and Christmas holiday decor. They are also used to spell out family names as everyday decor.


Quick Facts

  • The Bliss paper-litho company produced a Victorian-era line of toys including blocks. Collectors today hunt for these blocks as their colors, decorative surfaces, and fragile condition have made them scarce over time
  • The alphabet used on blocks and written language today originated in ancient Egypt in the 27th century B.C.
  • Children’s toy production was active in 15th-century Nuremberg, Germany, a major trade route stop. Craftsmen made a variety of items including toys made out of wood, foil paper, cardboard, leather, silver, and tin plate

Recommended Items at Auction

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R. Bliss Jack and Jill Ten Pin Blocks, ca. 1893
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
R. Bliss Jack and Jill Ten Pin Blocks, ca. 1893
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$2002 Bids
2002 Lego Harry Potter Dark Forest New In Box
Nov 29, 5:00 PM EST
2002 Lego Harry Potter Dark Forest New In Box
by Saco River Auction
Est: $30- $40
$202 Bids
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SET OF NINE GERMAN NESTING BLOCKS 20th Century Largest height 5”.
Dec 02, 4:00 PM EST
SET OF NINE GERMAN NESTING BLOCKS 20th Century Largest height 5”.
by Eldred's
Est: $250- $300
$1251 Bid
ABC Butterfly Blocks, attributed to Bliss
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
ABC Butterfly Blocks, attributed to Bliss
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2001 Bid
McLoughlin Bros. Picture Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Picture Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
McLoughlin Bros. lithographed paper Peep Show ABC
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. lithographed paper Peep Show ABC
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
Early ABC picture blocks, mid/late 19th c.
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Early ABC picture blocks, mid/late 19th c.
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$751 Bid
"PRINT BLOCKS" FROM WOOD DIPPED IN INK
Dec 03, 6:00 PM EST
"PRINT BLOCKS" FROM WOOD DIPPED IN INK
by Auctions by Daum
Est: $55- $70
$400 Bids
Scarce Bliss lithographed paper on wood wagon
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Scarce Bliss lithographed paper on wood wagon
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
19TH C. NESTING ALPHABET BLOCK SET BY J.A. CRANDALL
Dec 01, 10:00 AM EST
19TH C. NESTING ALPHABET BLOCK SET BY J.A. CRANDALL
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $250- $350
$1250 Bids
(4) CHILDREN'S BLOCK SETS
Dec 01, 10:00 AM EST
(4) CHILDREN'S BLOCK SETS
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $150
$500 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. Cob House Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Cob House Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. ABC and Picture Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. ABC and Picture Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Mother Columbia's Ship Building Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Mother Columbia's Ship Building Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. ABC Picture Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. ABC Picture Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$750 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. Columbus Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Columbus Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
Three wood picture puzzle block sets
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Three wood picture puzzle block sets
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. Mother Goose Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Mother Goose Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. Fairy Land Cubes, ca. 1897
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Fairy Land Cubes, ca. 1897
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Two nesting block sets and a rattle, late 19th c.
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Two nesting block sets and a rattle, late 19th c.
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
Two McLoughlin Bros. Nesting Block sets
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Two McLoughlin Bros. Nesting Block sets
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $600
$1500 Bids
E.I.H. (Horseman) alphabet blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
E.I.H. (Horseman) alphabet blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
Crandall's Cock Robin Junior nesting blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
Crandall's Cock Robin Junior nesting blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
McLoughlin Bros. Mother Hubbard's Nest of Blocks
Dec 03, 9:00 AM EST
McLoughlin Bros. Mother Hubbard's Nest of Blocks
by Pook & Pook, Inc.
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Blocks


Pook & Pook, Inc.

Pook & Pook, Inc.

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries

Eldred's

Eldred's

Rachel Davis Fine Arts

Rachel Davis Fine Arts