Anchor Stone Blocks
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Anchor Stone Blocks (German: Anker-Steinbaukasten) are components of stone construction sets made in Rudolstadt, Germany used as a construction toy. They are so precisely cut and polished that they fit together perfectly. They are made in three colors in imitation of the red brick, tan limestone, and blue slate of European buildings. They are not recommended for play by children under 3 years of age because of their small size.
Anchor stones originated with the wooden building blocks were designed by Friedrich Fröbel, the creator of the kindergarten system. He observed how children enjoyed playing with geometric shapes blocks.
The first Anchor Stone was produced when Otto Lilienthal and his brother Gustav decided that to make a model of a stone building, the blocks themselves must be stone. To this end, they started production of a limited number of blocks, made of a mixture of quartz sand, chalk, and linseed oil. Unfortunately, the Lilienthals, though brilliant inventors, had limited commercial success.
The stone blocks saw little popularity until 1880, when Friedrich A. Richter, a wealthy businessman who had built a small empire in Rudolstadt, purchased the rights to the stone for 1000 marks (about €510)"profit", plus paying about 4800 marks (including 800 marks still owing) for the tooling and machines being used to produce them. He quickly developed a series of sets of individually packaged stones. In 1895, the "Anchor" design was trademarked as Richter's Anchor Stone Building Sets (Richters Anker-Steinbaukästen), and a unique (for the time) advertising campaign helped to sell 40,000 sets, of which there are now over 400 with thousands of elements.[clarification needed] In 1910 Richter died, heralding the end of an era for Anchor Stones.
End and rebirth
Although Anchor Stones survived World War I and World War II, the factory was included within Communist East Germany when the Iron Curtain divided Europe. In 1953, the company was reorganized as VEB Anker-Steinbaukasten, a state-owned company. In 1963, the production of the blocks was stopped. The trademark "Anker" was used by various toy companies in East Germany; none of them were related to the stone building set factory.
Existing sets of old Anchor Stones, however, remained very popular within the international community, so much so that in 1979 the "Club of Anchor Friends" was founded in Amsterdam, with over 180 members. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, hastening the decline of communism. With the support of the Club of Anchor Friends, Dr. Georg Plenge was able to restore the company as Anker Steinbaukasten GmbH. Production at the factory in Rudolstadt restarted 15 September 1995.
Anchor Stones are currently sold in 15 sets, with hopes to make more if they sell successfully. They are known to be sold in the KaDeWe department store in Berlin. They tend to be expensive, but high-quality; antique sets are just as playable now as when they were being produced. Also, antique sets are made to precisely the same specifications as the ones being produced today, meaning they can be easily integrated.
Famous People like Albert Einstein or Walter Gropius developed their creativity by playing with Anchor stones. Anchor stones have been displayed in the Louvre and Deutsches Museum. They appear in a fairly major role in Jan Švankmajer's Neco z Alenky as, among other things, the home of the White Rabbit. They also support a plot sequence in The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton.
Media related to Anchor Stone Blocks at Wikimedia Commons