Although there are many toys that encourage children to explore and grow by building-blocks, Legos®, and K’NEX®, for example — Lincoln Logs® have the distinction of having been designed by an architect as well as a toy designer, John Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright. After the abrupt end of his apprenticeship to his father, John Wright turned to toy design, focusing first on blocks for construction and birds cut out with a jigsaw. After that came Lincoln Logs®.
Wright said that the shape of thelogs reflected an earthquake-proofing element that his father had introduced into the structure of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which was designed and built from 1907 to 1915. The Lincoln Logs®, designed in 1916, were patented by Wright’s business, J. L. Wright Company, on 31 August, 1920, and the name was trademarked in 1923.
The original sets were made entirely of wood, and doors and windows were formed by the absence of logs, rather than by attaching parts to represent those elements. Because they are made to interlock, Lincoln Logs® offer additional skill coordination practice for children over and above that of building blocks. With the addition of special pieces, including doors and windows, and accessories, such as people and wheels, the possibilities for imaginative play have been further expanded.
In 2003, in connection with the Centennial Celebration of the Toy Industry Association, a list of the hundred best-loved and most creative toys of the twentieth century was released. The toys are not ranked, but are listed in order of the year they were introduced. And there, between the Raggedy Ann doll introduced in 1915 and the Radio Flyer Wagon® introduced in 1917, are the Lincoln Logs®.