Folk Toys

Bank Street College archivist Lindsey Wyckoff has put together an exhibit of folk toys and objects handcrafted by alumnus Wilbur Rippy ’54 (1923 – 2006). During his time at Bank Street, Rippy was director of the Teachers Corp Project and a graduate school faculty member.

Wilbur Rippy Folk Toy Exhibit

Wilbur Rippy Folk Toy Exhibit

Inspired by traditional folk art, his work with children, and a lifelong interest in found objects, Rippy created these replicas of various folk toys. The collection includes pulleys, balance objects, and toys which illustrate physical and mechanical principles with a sense of humor and whimsy much appreciated by Rippy.

This exhibition has been made possible through the generosity of Rachel Rippy, and can be enjoyed in the library’s Quiet Room.

Reference librarian at Bank Street College Library.

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Posted in Exhibits
7 comments on “Folk Toys
  1. Meg Gillette says:

    I’m delighted to see this lovely display of Wilbur’s handiwork. His wry wit and childlike wonder at the world are evident in these pieces. It’s no wonder children were drawn to him. He continues to influence my teaching as I remember and respect my students’ need for playfulness and laughter.

  2. William L. Rukeyser says:

    Wilbur was an amazing teacher. I had him for Kindergarten and 2nd grade (before he graduated from Bank St.)
    He remains one of my most formative teachers.
    Particular memories: a two-room sized model of Manhattan Island assembled (by his students) out of wooden blocks and milk cartons on the classroom floor; carpentry projects and simple experiments with dry cells and circuits; tales of his Model T and classroom music played on instruments he made accompanied by him on a trumpet. Do you know if one of his “gut buckets” still exists?

    • Library Staff says:

      Hi William, thanks for your comment. We were very interested in your query about a “gut bucket.” We are sorry but we don’t have an example of one, and we aren’t exactly sure what one is. We believe it’s a kind of guitar.

  3. William L. Rukeyser says:

    A “gut bucket” is a single string bass made (as Wilbur did it for the class) with a metal wash-basin (upside down) a string, twine or wire run though a hole in the center of the bottom (now the top) of the basin and connected to the top of a broom handle or dowel which is notched at the bottom so it can pivot against the rim of the basin. The player plucks or strums the string and rests one foot on the far edge of the basin to steady it. By moving the broom handle you can adjust the string’s tension hence getting many notes from a single string. (Sort of the string equivalent of a slide trombone.)
    Wilbur assisted the kids in making multiple gut buckets. I hope one still survives.
    (See )

    • Library Staff says:

      Thanks William for enlightening us as to what a “gut bucket” is. Unfortunately, we don’t know the whereabouts of one. Should we find one in the future we will be sure to let you know.

  4. Rachel Rippy says:

    Dear William,
    I just saw your comment and I remember you when I was a student teacher with Wilbur at the
    Boardman School.
    Yes, Wilbur made a number of “buckets” and other instruments along with many other invented objects over the years, and I am glad to hear you still remember him.
    If you are interested in sending me your email I will send you a photo i think you will enjoy.
    Best wishes,
    Rachel Rippy

  5. William L Rukeyser says:

    Hi Rachel-

    Is it the photo of him and me from “Fives & Sixes Go to School”?

    I’d love to see whatever photo you have. My email:



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