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'Never odd or even' Wooden Toy (pair)

Regular price £35.00

Tax included.

'Never odd or even' Wooden Toy (burgundy & white)
&
'Never odd or even' Wooden Toy 
(blue & yellow)
Each: Cherry, black walnut, maple wood, cotton twill tape, wood glue
4.5 x 8 x 7 cm // 1 ¾ x 3 ⅛ x 2 ¾“
145g // 5.11oz


“The merest set of blocks, provided it is not too refined, implies a very different learning of the world: then, the child does not in any way create meaningful objects, it matters little to him whether they have an adult name; the actions he performs are not those of a user but those of a demiurge. He creates forms which walk, which roll, he creates life, not property: objects now act by themselves, they are no longer an inert and complicated material in the palm of his hand”.

— Roland Barthes, 'TOYS' from: Mythologies (1972) translated by Annette Lavers, Hill and Wang, New York, 1984 [all following quotes are from Barthes’ essay unless otherwise stated]


Our take on the classic Jacob Ladder, one of Montini’s favourite toys when he was growing up. It consists of blocks of wood held together by cotton straps that when held upright create a visual illusion of the blocks changing position when they in fact do not.  Origin unknown. For us the Jacob’s Ladder is the perfect toy, it is simple, fun, and pleasing and does not rely on a motor, battery or electricity - just a complex smart design, some good wood, cotton straps and some glue.

“Many [toys] are now moulded from complicated mixtures; the plastic material of which they are made has an appearance at once gross and hygienic, it destroys all the pleasure, the sweetness, the humanity of touch.“

Our version is a bit more chunky than you’ll usually find, and it also has three different hardwoods; cherry, black walnut and maple making this toy a satisfying gift for a kid and also for discerning adults, and would look great on an office table. We worked with a local joinery, recycling and modifying their offcuts in order to avoid waste and produce a high quality handmade wooden toy that will last for years.

“Wood removes, from all the forms which it supports, the wounding quality of angles which are too sharp, the chemical coldness of metal. When the child handles it and knocks it, it neither vibrates nor grates, it has a sound at once muffled and sharp. It is a familiar and poetic substance, which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor. Wood does not wound or break down; it does not shatter, it wears out, it can last a long time, live with the child, alter little by little the relations between the object and the hand.”

The earliest known review of the Jacob's Ladder is an 1889 Scientific American article which tells how it is built and works:
“The simple toy ... is very illusive in action. When the upper block is grasped by the edges ... and turned so as to lift the second block in the series to the same height, the upper end of the second block falls into an inverted position, and appears to pass downward on the other members of the series, first upon one side of the ladder and then upon the other until it reaches the bottom. But this effect is only apparent, as the second block in reality only falls back into its original position in the series; but in the operation it becomes reversed, what was before the lower end becoming the upper end, the front having exchanged places with the back. This change of position of the second member brings it parallel with the third block, which is then released, and the third member drops over onto the fourth, when the fifth block is released, and so on throughout the entire series.”

— "Jacob's Ladder", Scientific American, Vol. 61, No. 15 (October 1889)