John Lloyd Wright


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John Lloyd Wright's Toy Inventions

Many people aren't aware that John Lloyd Wright is the inventor of Lincoln Logs and other games. On this page his toys are featured.

Lincoln Logs

Lincoln Logs were first produced in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright. Records show that the J. L. Wright Company of Chicago, Illinois, obtained its patent for the design on August 31, 1920 and had the Lincoln Logs name registered on August 28, 1923. Building logs of similar designs had been produced by several other toy companies since the civil war but John L. Wright's version was very successful from the beginning and has remained so to this day.

Kids playing Lincoln Logs

Lincoln Logs

Click on the pictures to see the large version.






lincoln log plans

lincoln playhouse


You can see John Lloyd Wright's signature on the plans on the left. Above you see a much larger version of Lincoln Logs. John sold the rights to Lincoln logs before they became popular. He missed out on making millions from his invention.

1920 US Patent - Lincoln Logs Construction Set

* Artist: John L. Wright
* Class: Toy Set
* Color: Aged
* Weight: 70t, 80c
* Size: 8-1/2 × 11 in.
* Type: Unframed

In 1920, a patent was issued to John Lloyd Wright for his invention of the Lincoln Logs Construction Set. Lincoln Logs consisted of notched miniature logs that could easily be assembled into a log cabin structure. These sets were originally made of all-wood, and came with instructions on how to build Uncle Tom's Cabin and President Lincoln's log cabin. The Lincoln Logs Construction Set was manufactured by the Red Square Toy Company from 1916 to 1943.


Wright claimed that the foundation of Tokyo’s earthquake-proof Imperial Hotel, which he saw while his father was building it, inspired the shape of his logs. Lincoln Logs turned out to be a toymaker’s dream. The original sets were an instant success, and after World War II, sales of Lincoln Logs got another boost from the baby boom. The sets were popular among postwar parents because they were more sophisticated than plain building blocks but still challenged children’s powers of concentration and eye-hand coordination. Ironically, Lincoln Logs were among the first toys to be promoted on television, 1953’s Pioneer Playhouse. The ads targeted affluent parents, who were most likely to own a television set and to buy educational toys.

Imperial Hotel


Above: The Imperial Hotel - John got the idea for Lincoln Logs by observing his father build this beautiful building in Japan. Below: In late 1949 he patented—and in 1950 began to sell—a new version of his Wright Blocks, an interlocking block set which he had first patented in 1933. Below is a box of Wright Blocks from that era.

Wright Blocks

wright blocks

Photo courtesy of Shutter Pop Photo

Frank and John Lloyd Wright Links

Architect Home and Studio
Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
Classic Toy Museum
Construction On The Internet [Archive]

The Birth of Lincoln Logs


[ Early Years | Long Beach Practice | War Years | Later Career ]

[ School Design | His Toys | Gallery #1 | Gallery #2 | Gallery #3 ]