We recently attended an estate sale where I discovered a box of antique wood blocks. The box contained four unique groups of blocks, which are now offered in our store.
Early alphabet blocks are hand carved and painted. They often feature word pictures and numbers as well as letters. The blocks shown above and below are 1.75" cubes with a color stripe painted across the sides with raised letters.
Antique blocks that have been played with and passed down over decades are rarely in original pristine condition. In my opinion, flaws that develop over the years such as wormholes, chips or fading simply add to the character of old blocks.
Carved letters and numbers are often painted with different colors on opposing sides. Word pictures on the sides of blocks can be flat or carved.
Blocks with ridges are another variation found in this lot of blocks. The ridges help the blocks stay together when they're stacked.
The letters are carved out rather than raised, while the word pictures are raised (the green zebra, for example). These blocks are smaller than the others, roughly 1.25" cubed.
These blocks are quite lovely old things. There's plenty of wear, but no limit to their decorative value and allure to collectors. Just imagine how they entertained and educated little ones long ago.
Naturally, some old alphabet toys are worth more than others. Complete sets typically fetch higher prices. The sets shown below sold at prices starting $95 up to $1500 (images and information from Worthpoint.com.
Vintage and antique blocks look great just as they are, displayed on a shelf in a nursery, kitchen or den. Some collectors like to complete the alphabet or spell out words. If you're the crafty type, check out Etsy to get ideas for upcycling old blocks into new and fun home accents. Whatever you do, don't pass up that box of blocks when you encounter them at a sale or thrift store down the road.
Visit our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay to get your block fix or simply to peruse a fascinating assortment of merchandise.
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Learn about our recent discoveries and what captures our imagination in this blog, then peruse the treasures in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
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... Susan Buie, writer by day, vintage curator and co-proprietor of the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay in all the moments in between.