Synopsis of Toy
Folk toys don’t usually have legends this exotic behind them. The Jacob’s Ladder is named after a story from the Bible, in which a fella named Jacob had a vision of a ladder that led up to heaven, replete with angels scooting up and down (the biblical equivalent to a giant escalator to sky, only with passengers much easier on the eye than the haggard mall-walkers we see on moving staircases down here on earth). Though there was purportedly a Jacob’s Ladder found in King Tutankhamen's tomb, no one is sure just how old they are or exactly where they came from. But with a biblical name and a possible Tut affiliation, however, it’s probably enough just to say that the Jacob’s Ladder is, you know, really, really old.
In its most familiar form, the Ladder is made of six small blocks of wood, strung together with flat colored ribbon. Since each of the blocks is connected to one another with a double-acting hinge, to operate, you just hold the top block by its edges and let the rest of the blocks fall down. Then turn the top block over half a rotation until it and the second block are touching, and get ready for another block cascade. A little wrist dexterity is the only requirement. The sound that the blocks make as they head downwards and bounce off one another, incidentally, accounts for the Ladder’s onomatopoeic second name—the click-clack.
Alas, if your friends aren’t impressed with old toy lore, you can always fold a dollar bill up and tuck it under one of the ribbons—the dollar will appear and disappear, as long as you’ve got your basic cascade technique down. That’ll keep ‘em coming back for sure.