Who was André Cassagnes? Toy inventor…Kite Maker … Electrician … A man at play.

While reading the Economist awaiting a meeting we were introduced to André Cassagnes by way of his obituary.

Who was André Cassagnes?

By day he was an electrician. By weekend he was a fun loving idea guy. Starting at age 50 he became a globally followed kite-maker who marvelled in the exploration of complex geometric kite designs. He even devised ways to open and close the “wings” of a butterfly kite.

However, before he turned 50 invented the Etch-a-Sketch in 1960. Who knew?

The charm of his toy was not only in its simplicity, and the way it freed the imagination but the way you could start all over.

The rights were sold to Ohio Art for $25,000 which is all he got.

All this fame Mr Cassagnes barely registered. He never took full credit, or royalties, for his invention. He could not afford to buy the patent, so a man called Arthur Grandjean did the paperwork and got his name on it. His name, too, went into the Toy Hall of Fame.

Despite that frustrating experience he continued to marvel at the converging lines of kites (witness the converging lines of an Etch-a-Sketch). At kite festivals he was known to even give away some of his creations. Mr Cassagnes had a generous spirit! One wonders how we, as a culture, can encourage this spirit and not crush it. Is it money that encourages it? No way.

An epitaph written by a French blogger sums it up:

All our lines converge towards you, and our kits salute you.

We can think of no better image than a friendly old gent flying kits in the beautiful afterworld.

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