Fox Educational Board


This is a small, red, oval, double sided spelling and counting board with two slots in the center and rubber feet. The side with letter tiles shows children in a cart and a border of animals. The other side displays number tiles depicting children playing on a seesaw and a border of children playing. Six metal "bridges" or supports on the number side provide stability and are original to the board. This spelling and counting board was manufactured by Fox Toys.

Educational Boards or Tables first appeared in the US in 1840 as teaching devices for students to move blocks with letters on tracks to assemble words or even sentences. These educational manipulative toys, like blocks have been popular learning tool in both schools and homes and can still be found in secondhand stores and online. In the 1880's, separate boards were created for spelling and for numbers to create simple math problems. From 1912 to 1917 childhood friends John H. Fox and Horatio G. Cress patented educational boards that combined letters on one side and numbers on the other side. Popularly called speller/number boards, letter/counting boards, and alphabet boards, they were made of fiberboard, metal, combinations of slate and wood, and later plywood, heavy cardboard, or plastic.

In 1903 John H. Fox (1859-1933) founded Fox Novelty Company in Berea, Ohio. His friend Horatio Gates Cress worked for him and both their names are on the 2 early patents from 1912 and 1915. Their line of toys was called Foxy Toys. After a 1916 factory file at Fox, Cress moved to Troy, Ohio and opened his own toy company, H. G. Cress Company or Cressco. Fox rebuilt and incorporated into Fox & Sons Toy Manufacturer, registering the image of a fox as their trademark. They continued to expand their line with a variety of shapes and materials and added 2 additional patents in 1917. Foxy Toys also included wood tiles with words to create sentences. Fox & Sons remained in business in Berea until around 1935.

Date Made: 1912-1935

Maker: Fox Novelty Company

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Ohio, Berea

Used: Education


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Education


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Richard Lodish American School Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2014.0244.048Accession Number: 2014.0244Catalog Number: 2014.0244.048

Object Name: spelling and counting boardObject Type: educational toyseducational toys

Physical Description: wood (overall material)metal (overall material)cardboard (overall material)ink (overall material)Measurements: overall: 23.8 cm x 32.2 cm x 1.9 cm; 9 3/8 in x 12 11/16 in x 3/4 in


Record Id: nmah_1692990

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.