Thursday, 30 September 2021 17:19

Picture Cubes

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Picture Cubes Puzzle Toy c. 1894, HSMC Collection

We have a fair number of toys in HSMC's collection, but this one is my personal favorite. Copyrighted in 1894 by the McLoughlin Bro.'s of New York, this is a picture cube puzzle. It came to HSMC through the Francis Schlater Estate in 1961. It comes in a wooden box and contains 32 wooden blocks. Each side of every block has a piece of colored paper attached to it. When assembled, the blocks form one of six different pictures. Black and white sketches of each scene are included for the child to reference when assembling the different pictures.



Picnic Party on the Shores of a Lake

McLoughlin Brothers Incorporates was a publishing firm based in New York City. They were considered pioneers in printing children's books in color between 1858 and 1920. John McLoughlin, Jr. (1827 - 1905), learned wood engraving and printing when he worked for Elton & Co. as a teenager. This company was created by his father, John Sr., and Robert H. Elton. By 1851, John Sr. and Elton retired, handing the company over to John Jr.

Native Americans

Native American Camp

He soon began publishing picture books under his own name. John Jr.'s younger brother Edmund became a partner in 1855 and the new company was first listed in the New York City directory in 1858. They soon expanded their products to include toys and games like the one we have at HSMC.


An Elephant Ride

In 1871, the company opened a color printing factory in Brooklyn, employing at least 75 artists to experiment color printing techniques. After Edmund retired in 1885, John Jr.'s sons James and Charles joined the company. John Jr. died in 1905 and in 1920 the company was sold to Milton Bradley and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. After this sale, the production of books continued, but toys like the one at HSMC were discontinued. 


A Circus Procession

As for the picture cubes at HSMC, the donor records do not indicate how the family acquired it. Since McLoughlin Bros, Inc. printed catalogues advertising their products, I suspect it was either ordered through the McLoughlin catalog or was bought at a local toy store.


Farmyard Scene



Coach Scene




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