- Historic Sites
An obscure Pennsylvania carpenter named John Scholl left the world a legacy of charming toys and beautiful fantasies
December 1968 | Volume 20, Issue 1
In addition to his fantasies, Scholl made toys that work—ferris wheels and carousels that revolve and carry carved birds and people. He also made action toys with little men who, when activated by an ingenious system of wheels, pulleys, and cranks, pump and grind and march. In their mechanical ingenuity Scholl’s toys hark back to the work of the cuckoo-clock makers of the Black Forest in his native W’fcrttemberg.
Scholl never sold any of his creations and never gave any away, but kept them in the parlor of his house. After his death in 1916 his carvings remained in the house for a generation, cared for by his children. For another generation they were stored in a barn; but in the 1960’s some of the Scholl grandchildren began to think that his work might be of interest to others. As a result, the Stony Point Folk Art Gallery of Stony Point, New York, acquired the carvings and arranged for an exhibition of Scholl’s creations at the Willard Gallery in Manhattan. As soon as they were seen they became a sensation and were quickly bought by museums and collectors.
Looking at the photograph of John Scholl that accompanies these pictures of his work, one cannot help wondering what he would think of the attention that his fantasies and toys are receiving. The answer is not too difficult. Since he carved to bring pleasure to himself and his family, he could only be pleased that his creations have brought joy to a far wider circle than he would ever have dreamed possible.