A lifelong Sandy Springs resident, the whittler was born in 1845 and worked as a farmer until he reached his 60s. To make use of his time, he started whittling. Robinson used a pocketknife to create animals, birds, soldiers, couples and other toys out of wood. He made miniature baskets out of peach pits.
“He ended up giving the toys away to kids, and that’s how he got famous,” said Kimberly Brigance, Heritage’s director of programs and historic resources.
Eventually, Robinson carved walking canes for World War II soldiers. He died at age 97 in 1942.
What was left of Robinson’s collection was passed down through the years to his children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren.
Over the course of a year, Brigance has identified five of these heirs, who have loaned her figurines and toys for the exhibit.
“Stuff is still coming in,” she said. “Members of the family heard about it and are bringing in their collections.”
She expects to have about 50 items on display.
“Most of these items are about 100 years old,” she said. “We’re hoping to get some donations to repair some and display later.”
Robinson’s work has never been on display before.
Acworth resident Bonnie Webb, whose grandmother, Annie Margaret Robinson Wootten, was Robinson’s youngest daughter, said she was ecstatic when she learned about the exhibit.
“The family has always been proud of them and felt that they provided a link to a distinct family personality that we would never have known so well otherwise,” she said.
“This has almost been like M.Y. (Moses) has used the carvings to draw his scattered family and the community of Sandy Springs together again.”
Brigance said Robinson’s warmth radiates from his works.
“All the little animals are smiling,” she said. “You get happy when you look at them, and you can tell he was happy when he made them. That he made them and gave them away is amazing.”
If you go:
o What: Wit in the Wood folk art exhibit
o When: Feb. 16 through Sept. 4, Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
o Where: Heritage Sandy Springs, 6110 Blue Stone Road
o Cost: $3 for adults and $1 for children 6 to 12 and seniors (65 and older)
o Information: www.heritagesandysprings.org