Alphabet blocks have entertained and informed generations of toddlers. Parents and child experts like these block sets because playing with them aids toddlers' development of hand-eye coordination, creativity, and experimentation. Youngsters invent many uses for blocks--stacking, sorting, tossing, spelling, counting, and tumbling. The earliest wooden blocks were produced by hand for the fortunate children of the well-to-do. Other sets may have been made by a father or grandfather for a forntunate boy or girl. In the late 19th century, toy makers devised ways of sawing wooden blocks in quantity and embossing them with the shapes of letters, numbers, and figures in low relief. Other block makers used chromolithography on paper to produce vibrant, four-color illustrations on their ABC blocks. The Progressives of the early 20th century influenced parents' purchases of so-called educational toys like alphabet blocks which gave toddlers nicely sized objects to manipulate and also placed the first instruments of reading before children at early moments in their development. Alphabet blocks have remained popular toys throughout the the 1900s and well into the 21st century.