[EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)].
A set of Anker-Steinbaukasten children's building blocks by F. Ad. Richter & Cie., Rudolstadt, [Germany], c.1880s, the approx 160 composite quartz sand, chalk and linseed oil blocks in red, limestone and slate gray, in various sizes and shapes, together with three or more sets of building plans variously entitled Der geschickte Baumeister. Serie 18 (16A), Heft 1 and Stufe 20, Heft 1 and Architektonische Vorlageblätter, Stufe 22, zweites Heft (all Leipzig: Verlag der Leipziger Lehrmittel-Anstalt, n.d.), together approx. 85 leaves, various sizes, text in German, French, English etc, and chromoxylographic representations of architectural structures, stapled and loose. Contained in two wooden boxes of differing sizes with printed labels of Anker-Steinbaukasten. (A few blocks chipped and worn, the printed instructions worn, soiled and defective, the boxes worn and somewhat defective).
Provenance: The set has passed by direct descent from Albert Einstein to the present owner.
Einstein's sister specifically recalled him playing with these Anker building blocks: 'Sehr bezeichnend für seine Anlagen waren nun die Spiele des kleinen Albert. Meist waren es Geduldspiele, Laubsägearbeiten, Erstellung komplizierter Bauten mit dem bekannten Ankersteinbaukasten, am liebsten aber der Bau vielstöckiger Kartenhäuser, womit er seine Musse ausfüllte. [The games he played as a child were very characteristic of Albert’s capacities. These were mostly puzzles, fretsaw work, the erection of complicated structures with the well known Anker building blocks, and above all the construction of multi-storeyed card castles, with which he filled his leisure]' (Maja Winteler-Einstein. 'Beitrag für sein Lebensbild' in The collected papers of Albert Einstein. ed. John Stachel. Volume 1: The early years. 1879-1902. (Princeton University Press, 1987) p.lix). A fore-runner of Lego and other construction toys, the composite stone blocks of the Anker-Steinbaukasten were an immensely popular children's toy of the 1880s and 1890s, with as many as 42,000 sets being sold in 1883.