In the years before the Civil War, several Northern states opened free elementary or common schools. To communicate with large numbers of students, teachers used a wide range of objects, including these models of simple geometrical shapes. Connecticut school reformer and lecturer Josiah Holbrook developed a collection of apparatus for teaching by families and in schools. The models were part of this set. He designed them to help students learn the names of simple solids, basic rules for calculating the area of various flat surfaces, and elementary drawing. Holbrook advertised that his equipment was "Good enough for the best, and cheap enough for the poorest." It was used in thousands of schools. Even after Holbrook died in 1854, his family continued to manufacture school apparatus; these models date from about 1859.
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