You know I'm a huge fan of early Froebel designed kindergarten materials, and will snatch them up whenever I find them. These J.L Hammett Boston sets--both complete "Gift 4" sets, comprised of eight rectangular blocks of the same size-- precede the Milton Bradley ones; the Hammett company was formed in 1863 by John Hammett, credited with inventing the chalkboard eraser, as well as "slating paint" that extended the life of classroom slates. In 1890, Hammett sold the company to a group of Massachusetts investors, and in 1891 partnered with game-maker Milton Bradley of Springfield to produce some of the first kindergarten materials in the United States. I would date these blocks to the very earliest of those. I love the design and lapis blue of the paper labels, and the slide lid boxes with jointed corners--all together communicating that these are creative tools of serious merit and import! Since I found them together and think the more the better with these, I'm listing as a pair.
About Froebel blocks: When Friedrich Froebel established the first system for educating young children, he created a series of playthings to provide children with focussed educational experiences. Up until that time, toys were intended for amusement and education was provided through books and instruction. Froebel's Kindergarten used play as its engine and his Spielgaben ("play gifts") were the fuel. During his lifetime he codified the series of Froebel Gifts up through Gift 6. After his death in 1852, his followers extended the series of educational toys by numbering other materials used in his school.