Anchor Stone Blocks
Anchor Stone Blocks ( _de. Anker-Steinbaukasten) are
stonebuilding blocks made in Rudolstadt, Germany. 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.
Origin of the Anchor Stone
Anchor stones originated with the wooden building blocks were designed by
Friedrich Froebel, the creator of the kindergartensystem. He observed how children enjoyed playing with geometric shapes blocks.
Beginnings of the Anchor Stone
The first Anchor Stone was produced when
Otto Lilienthaland 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 build a small empire in Rudolstadt, purchased the rights to the stone for 1000 marks (about €510), along with the machines being used to produce them. He quickly developed a series of sets, individually packaged stones. In 1895, the "Anchor" design was trademarked as Richter's Anchor Stone Building Sets ("Richters Anker-Steinbaukasten"), and a unique (for the time) advertising campaign helped to sell 40,000 sets, of which there were now over 400 with thousands of elements. In 1910 Richter died, heralding the end of an era for Anchor Stones.
End and rebirth
Although Anchor Stones survived
World War Iand World War II, they were included within Communist East Germany when the Iron Curtaindivided Europe. In 1953 the company was reorganized as VEB Anker-Steinbaukasten, a state-owned company. In 1963, the production of the blocks was stopped and replaced with production of an inferior plastic product, perhaps because the cathedrals and palaces that could be built with them were seen as an ideological threat to the Soviet Union.
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 Wallfell in 1989, hastening the decline of communism. With the support of the Club of Anchor Friends, Dr. George 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
KaDeWedepartment 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.
Anchor stones have been displayed in the
Louvreand 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.
* [http://www.ankerstein.org/ Website by Anchor enthusiast George Hardy]
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