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Wooden Blocks


Registered User
Over on Facebook I am in a group that does a lot of "Remember these...?" type posts. Today there was a picture of Walt Disney-themed wooden blocks (along with nostalgic musings of toys that didn't require batteries or have prescribed methods of play). I didn't have Disney blocks, but I did have regular old, generic wooden blocks when I was very young (I don't think I was even walking yet!). I got to fondly remembering seeing how high I could stack the blocks before Putty, our calico semi-foster mother of a cat (who would keep an eye on us when Mom wasn't around), would come by and knock them over with a swish of her tail.

Then another memory crept in. I remembered the raised surfaces that showed the letter of the alphabet and the numbers 0-9. I don't recall at that time if I was speaking or walking, but I do remember thinking that if I could brush some ink or paint on them, I could use them to stamp words on paper. (In fact, I used to do that with Play-Doh, making impressions and learning how to spell several words well before becoming school age even though the letters came out backwards in the clay.)

Now this could just be the result of a naturally curious young mind and some simple application of that curiosity. But couple that with a love of old woodcuts, printing presses, cuneiform writing, and other such things, and I am left wondering if it had something to do with a past life or two as a scribe or printer.


Senior Registered
It seems very plausible to me. I made imprints with Play-Do, and Silly Putty, but it never occurred to me that I could make woodblock prints with the ABC blocks. Actually, I wouldn't have thought of it now! I wonder if you could have been involved in printing in your "poet" life? Is it possible you owned a small press, for volumes, or a news sheet? Is there any information available about Washington Irving's publisher?


Senior Registered
Yes, the part about making backwards letters sounds like you were a printer. Western alphabet means an American or European life. Maybe 1700-1800's? After hot lead and linotype were invented I don't think any printers were still using wooden type. Maybe earlier, when did Gutenberg invent movable type?


Senior Member
The world's first movable type printing technology was invented and developed in China by the Han Chinese printer Bi Sheng between the years 1041 and 1048. In Korea, the movable metal type printing technique was invented in the early thirteenth century during the Goryeo Dynasty. In the West, the invention of an improved movable type mechanical printing technology in Europe is credited to the German printer Johannes Gutenberg in 1450.

Wood block printing was done in China around the 220 CE. It is still being done. I've done it in several art-printing classes.