Anchor Blocks are high quality sets of building blocks, which are both an educational toy for children and an absorbing hobby for adults. Friedrich Froebel, originator of the kindergarten, developed the first building block set made of wood. He recognized the value of geometrical shapes for the development of children's minds. His theory was that children’s minds would be exercised by relating a three dimensional structure to a two dimensional plan. The first sets of wooden blocks were not very well made and the resulting structures often collapsed due to the inaccuracy of manufacturing.
Due to great precision in manufacturing, the weight of the stones and their composition, large buildings can be constructed without using any adhesive agents.
The creative ingenuity of the Lilienthal Brothers was not the equal of their sales talent unfortunately. Deeply in debt they are forced to sell their unique brick formula to the versatile entrepreneur Richter. In 1880 the factory owner sets up a new building for the production of 'Richter's Anker Stone Building Set' in Rudolstadt. At the same time he establishes an art institute where artists, illustrators and architects develop the building plans for the Anker Stone Building sets. The first worldwide building set system is born. In the beginning they are distributed as 'patented building sets' with the icon of a red squirrel. The triumphal march of Anker stones begins.
In 1884 Richter launches the first series with four different stone building sets. They are displayed at various exhibitions and win numerous awards. Just one year later Richter proudly alludes to the fact in his catalogue that his Anker Stone Building Set won 15 gold medals. In 1887 the first Special Anker Edition is released in honour of the 10-year papacy of Pope Leo XII: a huge true to scale model of the house where Pope Leo the XII was born.
Popularity rises quickly due to an innovative advertising and publicity campaign. Richter is one of the first in Germany to use large-scale colourful advertising, providing answers to puzzles separately and bringing out special editions. Very soon after that, over 40,000 Anker Stone Building Sets are produced and distributed under the Anker Logo. Branches and subsidiaries are established in Vienna, St. Petersburg, London and New York. Very soon the Anker Stone Building Sets become a synonym for a creative, educationally valuable game. Through the highly complex extension system the boxes can be combined in many different forms. In order to meet customers' desires, the range of products is continually being extended.
The marketing expert Richter can boast of praise of the Anker Stone from great personalities such as Thomas Edison or US President Cleveland. At the time of Richter's death, the empire is at its peak with branches all over Europe and the USA. At this time, 649 workers are employed at the flagship factory in Rudolstadt.
After long years of complicated arguments about Richter's heritage, inflation after World War I leads to the loss of the entire company fortune and savings. In 1921 the company is fundamentally re-organized and divided into two state-controlled stock corporations. During the course of time, the company in Rudolstadt is turned into a People-owned enterprise (VEB) by the government of the German Democratic Republic.
The Anker Stone survived two Wold Wars without severe damage, but in 1963 the German Democratic Republic Government stops the stone production. The company 'People owned enterprise Anker Stone Building Set System' is closed and manufacturing plants are given away. With the exception of a very few complete Building Sets all the Stones are handed over for free. Everybody can take as much as he or she can carry. According to estimates about 5 billion Anker Stones were sold in four hundred different sets from 1880 to 1963.
The Anker brick has many loyal friends, for instance the International Club of Anker Friends that was founded in Holland in 1979. Presently, there are over 250 members from Holland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary, USA and Chile. The Club promotes important ideas and inspirations and is a great contributor to the preservation of the rich history of the Anker Stone. The Anker Stone has fascinated and inspired several generations and even today hasn't lost any of its charisma. Thanks to a notably persistent group of Anker Stone friends the building sets are back.
Source and official website: www.ankerstein.de
- Anker Stone Building Sets
What's it worth? Take a look at this Anker price guide: sold listings for a value indication.