c.1880 McLoughlin, Fairy Tale Puzzles in Original Oak Box

c.1880 McLoughlin, Fairy Tale Puzzles in Original Oak Box

Aunt Louisa's Cube Puzzles manufactured by McLoughlin Bros.; a very early multiple sided puzzle, complete with all 30 wooden cubes, and in its original solid oak framed box with sliding cover. One of the oldest toys that I've had the good fortune to find, yet still in extraordinary condition. 

Here's the background...

This puzzle was manufactured in conjunction with a children's book published by McLoughlin Bros., New York around 1880. The full title was "Aunt Louisa's Charms For Children Comprising Pumpkin House, Sleeping Beauty, Diamonds  & Toads, Bob's School Days". Accompanying the fairy tales were many richly colored illustrations. In addition to traditional fairytales, the compilations includes a story with themes that would have resonated with Americans of the period. "The Pumpkin House, or the Adventures of Little Flora and Jack" tells of a beautiful, idle, and vain girl and her friend, a poor, bright, and willing boy, who are carried to a magical land of mammoth scale. As the plot unfolds, the pair migrates steadily westward making resourceful use of materials at hand to feed and house themselves. A friendly red squirrel poignantly describes the prejudice she encountered after marrying a black squirrel. Jack and Flora learn tolerance, respect, and self-reliance on their journey and float safely home on a giant puff of thistle down. 

Fairy Tales and Fables by Amy Weinstein

It's a six-sided puzzle with each block face forming a different illustration. Each cube is solid wood, not hollow. A brilliant chromolithographed illustration is on all six sides of each cube. The cover (which is a duplicate of one of the puzzles) shows Jack and Flora arriving "safely home on a giant puff of thistle down". That explains why the "balloon" doesn't look like a balloon which was the reason why I researched this beyond a simple description. The five other cube faces depict other illustrations from the fairy tale including meeting the red squirrel, killing of the nasty toad, and others. The cover also includes the name of the fairy stories plus the McLoughlin name down at the bottom center.

Weighing over 4 pounds the construction of the box had to be strong. The design is based on an actual picture frame.  That is, four routed (sculpted) panels cut at right angles were nailed together at the corners to form a perfect rectangle. Hand wrought square headed nails were used! Over time the oak acquired a beautiful darkened patina which has never been refinished. Only the blank underside panel is not oak. It's probably poplar. 

To open the box the top pull out the top edge of the right frame bevel. But it's tricky because when closed the fit is so perfect that you can't tell which panel slides out. 

Size: 10" x 12" x 3".

Sold: Aug. 2010

Price Sold: $ 500


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Subject: c.1880 McLoughlin, Fairy Tale Puzzles in Original Oak Box

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