9. Lincoln Logs

Patrick Cox, H-NET President-Elect and Editor's picture

Contributor: Stacey Swigart

Director of Collections and Research

Please Touch Museum


Toys guide play, engender creativity and cultivate the imagination. Toys offer children ways to develop their brain power in strategic and critical thinking…and toys help children in all the stages of play: social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language. Plus, they’re fun!

Lincoln Logs have long been a staple of childhood play for many generations of children. The toy is a series of notched miniature logs, allowing kids to create and construct their own designs into forts, cabins, houses and more.  The concept for the toy was developed by John Lloyd Wright while he was working on the construction of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan which was designed by his father, the famous architect—Frank Lloyd Wright.

John Lloyd Wright developed his toy in 1916, created a toy company and began marketing his Lincoln Logs in 1918. Kids loved them! The original set featured directions to create President Abraham Lincoln’s cabin (among others) and later, sets came with more pieces for more elaborate constructions.

The manufacturing history of the toy is important to the American business landscape as well.  John Lloyd Wright first organized The Red Square Toy Company to make the logs, which later became J.L. Wright Manufacturing. Eventually, the company was incorporated into the Hasbro brand and today, Lincoln Logs are manufactured by K’nex, under license from Hasbro.

Construction toys like Lincoln Logs are not only fun to play with, but they encourage and enhance problem-solving skills, develop motor and spatial skills and hand-eye coordination.  The creativity required to use construction toys develops divergent thinking as well as boost social and language skills.

Lincoln Logs are almost 100 years old…and remain a beloved memory of childhood for millions of kids across the United States and beyond.


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Categories: AC25
Keywords: play, toys, childhood, AC25

Stacey, thanks for your essay. I had no idea that the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was the project FLW was working on while when his son developed Lincoln Logs. I can't get over how ironic it is that the hotel, known for not falling down in the 1923 earthquake, was the inspiration for a toy, which many kids draw pleasure from knocking down!