Happy birthday, America! And what better way to mark the nation's Centennial than to buy your child a present? Celebrating 100 years of American independence, Charles M. Crandall created a new wooden toy to add to his long line of toy figurines. "Ye Hero of '76" presents a soldier from the American Revolution proudly displaying the American flag. Like his other figures, Crandall's "Hero" features moving parts. "He is a thing of life," this ad boasts, "a real joy to all boys and girls." Crandall had become one of the best-known wooden toy manufacturers after discovering that the comb joints for his wooden boxes made ideal building blocks. A forerunner of the 20th century's Lincoln Logs or Legos, Crandall's specially designed blocks linked together to build anything imaginable. Depicted here with both boys and girls, Crandall's blocks fit well with late 19th-century preferences for toys that were both educational and amusing. Crandall's line of mass-produced wooden toys decorated with inexpensive lithographed paper made these educational ideals available to a wide range of Americans.
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