Two ado toy vehicles; tractor 950 with covered cart and courier service (936)

All ado toys in color

Toys from the woods

The tale of ado began in a forest, and not without reason. Around 1920, tuberculosis claimed numerous lives, leading to the construction of sanatoriums across the Netherlands. These facilities aimed to treat patients in the ‘healthy’ open air, considered beneficial for their recovery. Among these sanatoriums was Berg en Bosch (Mountain and Woods). Once their treatment concluded, patients sought to reintegrate into society by crafting wooden ado toys. Ado, an acronym for “arbeid door onvolwaardigen” meaning labor by the incapacitated, reflected the patients’ limited ability to fully participate in society.

This website features the ado toy catalog, a huge project documenting the countless designs created in the workshop.

Ko Verzuu for ado toys

The designer Ko Verzuu (1901 – 1971) envisioned ado toys as innovative and conscientious products. Drawing inspiration from various modern trends like De Stijl, the Hague School (Dutch Art Deco), and expressionism, he meticulously observed his surroundings, infusing his dollhouse furniture with a blend of contemporary styles. Verzuu also embraced advancements in technology, incorporating elements from the automobile and railroad industries into his designs.

In addition, Verzuu placed great importance on the educational value and safety of ado toys. Through his minimalist designs, he allowed the child’s imagination to flourish. Ensuring child safety, he utilized non-toxic Japan lacquers in the production of these toys. This combination of innovation, responsibility, and safety resonated with parents, and Verzuu’s work earned ado toys a prominent place in trendsetting local department stores such as De Bijenkorf and Metz & Co!

A huge project

Guus Verzuu, son of Ko Verzuu, back in the 1990s believed that a listing of all ado cars was never going to happen. His words were published in the magazine Modelauto (September 1992). Today, we are trying what was then deemed impossible. The internet is our advantage, we can expand and modify an overview. There is a long road ahead, but we accept the challenge to organize all models, in color!