In the mid-19th century, American toy manufacturers, starting with S. L. Hill in 1858, began to produce alphabet blocks in mass quantities. To do so, companies had to use efficient and easily replicated methods. One such technique, embossing, involved applying heat and pressure to the block using a metal dye, which left an imprint in the wood's surface. A manufacturer could thus re-create an identical image or letter on many blocks. The embossing process evolved over the years, allowing for greater speed and detail. In 1880 for instance, the Embossing Company of Albany, NY, patented its "ornamenting wood" process which, by painting the surface of a wooden block before and after embossing it, produced a multicolored image.


  • Title: Alphabet block:Alphabet Blocks
  • Date Created: ca.1900
  • Location: USA
  • Subject Keywords: child, animal
  • Type: Construction Toys and Blocks
  • Medium: wood, paper, cardboard, chromolithographed, embossed
  • Object ID: 107.3536

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