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Oct 19, '20

The History of Ankerstein

When I was very young I had a box of old Meccano bits, in among the contents were these building blocks. I was taken by their mass, weight and general solidity. They were much battered and ravished by the effects of time. They like fossils became my much prized among my possession. Before Lego and Meccano there was Ankerstein!

The game concept

The long and eventful tradition of anchor stones goes back to the German pedagogue Friedrich Froebel. The founder of play education and the inventor of the kindergarten has free, thinking, creative people as his educational goal. For Froebel, the world is experienced in the game. Froebel is also the developer of legendary "play equipment", e.g. B. 1838 of the first systematic building game for children, which is made of wood and has a cube as its basic shape. In this way, children are stimulated in their feeling, thinking and cognition and motor skills, imagination and creativity are encouraged.

Friedrich Froebel

From wood to stone

Inspired by Fröbel's wooden building blocks, the Lilienthal brothers developed a recipe in 1875 for the production of mineral building blocks, which were pressed from a mixture of quartz sand, lime and linseed oil varnish. In search of the real building feel, the aviation pioneers find an alternative to unstable wooden building blocks. The first stone construction kit impresses with its natural feel: Due to its precision, weight and structure, even large buildings can be built without binding agents.

Otto Lilienthal / Gustav Lilienthal

The birth of the anchor stones

Since the creative genius of the Lilienthal brothers is greater than their marketing talent, they sell the recipe for the production of their building blocks to the universal entrepreneur Richter, heavily in debt. In 1880 the manufacturer erected a new building for the production of “Richter's anchor stone building sets” in Rudolstadt. At the same time, he established an art institute in which artists, illustrators and architects create the building templates for construction kits and created the world's first system toy. These are initially sold as "patent kits" with the logo of a red squirrel. The triumphal march of the anchor stones begins.

The anchor factory Rudolstadt - figurative mark (red squirrel)

Gold for anchors

In 1884 Richter launched the first series with four different stone building sets. They are presented at various exhibitions and win numerous awards. Just one year later, Richter rightly points out in a catalog that his anchor building blocks have won a total of 15 gold medals. In 1887, on the occasion of the 10-year pontificate of Pope Leo XIII. brought out the first special anchor case: a large, true-to-scale model of the birthplace of Leo XIII.

Excellent anchor building block

Advertising and marketing

A currently one-of-a-kind advertisement and advertising campaign quickly makes the new toy known. Richter is one of the first in Germany to use colorful advertising on a large scale, to sell the solutions to puzzles separately and to issue splendid editions. The factory in Rudolstadt soon left the factory in over 40,000 stone building sets, which were sold under the anchor logo from 1895. Branches and branches are set up in Vienna, St. Petersburg, London and New York. Anker stone building sets have become synonymous with creative, educational toys. A sophisticated extension and supplement system makes it possible to vary and combine the boxes as desired. In order to meet the needs of the growing customer base, the range is constantly expanding.

The original

In full bloom

Marketing expert Friedrich Adolf Richter can refer to hymns of praise from such illustrious personalities as Thomas A. Edison or US President Stephen Grover Cleveland for his anchor building blocks. When Richter died in 1910, he left an empire in full bloom, with offices across Europe and the United States. The main factory in Rudolstadt employed 649 workers at this time.

Friedrich Adolf Richter

Inheritance and reorganization

After long years of complicated disputes over Richter’s legacy, inflation after World War I led to the complete loss of the company's bank and cash savings. In 1921 the company is fundamentally reorganized and divided into two state stock companies. The company in Rudolstadt is converted into a state-owned company (VEB) under the GDR government.

Unwanted interruption

The anchor stones survived two world wars unscathed, but in 1963 a decision by the GDR leadership ordered production to be stopped. The company "VEB Anker-Steinbaukasten" is dissolved and the production facilities are outsourced. With the exception of a few complete boxes, all stones are given free of charge. Everyone from the yard can carry as many hands and pockets as possible. From 1880 to 1963, it is estimated that around five billion anchor blocks in four hundred different kits were sold worldwide.

Good friends

The anchor stone has many loyal friends, e. For example, the international Anchor Friends Club, founded in Holland in 1979, which today has over 250 members from Holland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Hungary, Chile, Switzerland and the USA. The club provides important suggestions and impulses and makes an enormous contribution to coming to terms with the rich history of anchor stones. The anchor stone has fascinated and inspired generations - and has lost none of its charisma to this day. It is thanks to the efforts of a particularly persistent group of anchor stone friends that it reproduces the construction sets today.

The new beginning

The acoustics professor and anchor lover Georg Plenge, who teaches at the Technical University in Berlin, starts the project for the anchor renaissance. With the support of funds from the EU and the state of Thuringia, production is resumed in 1995 using the existing templates. The market entry takes place with the basic set 6 and shortly afterwards with the supplementary sets 6A and 8A. Even today, Anker-Steinbaukasten GmbH has the charm of a craft business that maintains its traditions and relies on the timeless values ​​of anchor stones.


In the meantime, the anchor stones have received several awards: with the seal of approval “Spiel gut”, the “Parents Choice Award” and the “National Parents Publisher Award”. The worldwide loyal Anker fan base played a major role in the success of the Anker renaissance. In 2005 the 10th anniversary of the resumption of production was celebrated as well as the 125th birthday of the Anker stone building sets. In February 2008, Anker Steinbaukasten GmbH presented itself with a new visual appearance at the 59th Toy Fair in Nuremberg.

In 2009 Gerhard Gollnest & Fritz-Rüdiger Kiesel secure the continued existence of Anker - Steinbaukasten GmbH by taking over the company. The company will continue to operate at the traditional Rudolstadt location. The two manufacturers of traditional toys are known for the toy brands goki, 'cause, HOLZTIGER and HEIMESS.

In 2017, Arbeiterwohlfahrt Rudolstadt took over the company and is now producing the stones on site, which will be sent all over the world again as before.

If you press the (Not Found) below it connect you the official Ankerstein website.


Oct 19, '20
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