|Toy Brands and Manufacturers|
|1909 - 1967|
A.C. Gilbert were founded in Connecticut, USA in 1909 and patented and started selling their metal "Erector" sets in 1913, the same year that Meccano Ltd. set up an offshoot company in the US.
The company started out selling magic sets under the "Mysto" name, and like Meccano, had a founder/inventor with a strong personality and a strong interest in education (Alfred Carlton Gilbert, 1884-1961). Also like Meccano, Gilbert branched out into new avenues such as chemistry sets and metal train sets (which in Gilbert's case was achieved by buying the "American Flyer" brand) in the late 1930s.
Like Meccano Ltd., A.C. Gilbert had trouble adjusting to post-war marketplace pressures caused by the introduction of cheaper plastic mouldings for toys and model railways, and the company was sold on not long after the death of its founder.
Gilbert's metal construction sets initially concentrated on reproducing "zig-zag" girderwork used in temporary building construction works, hence the brand name "Erector", but later Erector sets were obviously Meccano-based.
The most famous Erector model is probably Gilbert's "Hudson Locomotive" set, Number "A", which built an impressively large black New York locomotive, but A.C. Gilbert are also remembered for the "Electric Eye" electrical sets, which included a photosensor that allowed built models to respond to nearby movement.
A.C. Gilbert and Meccano
Gilbert bought Meccano's American offshoot company in ~1929, which allowed them to sell the Meccano designs in the US. Gilbert originally sold these sets as "American Meccano", but ultimately ended up selling "Erector" sets based on American-variant Meccano under the Gilbert name.
In another confusing company takeover typical of the time, Meccano's owners then bought out its US rival brand in the 1960s, and the "Erector" sets currently on sale are "modern" Meccano sets rebranded for the US market, with slightly modified packaging (to the extent that the current "Erector" logo is deliberately styled to look like the current "Meccano" logo). Due to further company takeovers and local marketing, information on "modern" Erector (Meccano) sets can also be found under the names Nikko Erector, Schylling Erector and Brio Erector.
The "Hello Boys!" slogan used in Gilbert's early advertising appears to predate Mae West's adoption of it as her catchphrase, suggesting that perhaps West might have been inspired by the Gilbert advertising. At the time she was participating in stage magic routines, so the idea that she might have seen Gilbert's adverts for their magic tricks isn't entirely unreasonable.
Erector, A.C. Gilbert:
- A.C. Gilbert Heritage Society (acghs.org)
- "Erector and Meccano History", by Robert Lian (scroll down to article) (mindsontoys.com)
- "The Demise of The A. C. Gilbert Company", Steven D. Goldberg, University of New Haven (eliwhitney.org)
- "The Inspiring, Nerdy Toys of A. C. Gilbert: Early toys got kids interested in science and engineering through experimentation", by Rose Eveleth ()scientificamerican.com)
- A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village (acgilbert.org) - A children's museum on Salem, Oregon celebrating the world of American inventor Alfred Carlton Gilbert (1884 - 1961), who created the Erector construction sets. Houses the world's tallest "Erector" tower (57 feet high).
- Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop (Connecticut) - Erector sets (eliwhitney.org)
Pages in category ‘Gilbert’
The following 8 pages are in this category, out of 8 total.
Media in category ‘Gilbert’
The following 20 files are in this category, out of 20 total.
- AC Gilbert American Fl...
- Electric Engine (Gilbe...
- Erector Set No4 (Mysto...
- Erector Set number 6 1...
- Erector sets (GXB 1932...
- Erector Tips magazine,...
- Erector US advert (PM...
- Erector US advert (Pop...
- Farm Wagon, 1915 (Myst...
- Gilbert advert.jpg
- Gilbert logo.jpg
- Gilbert Toys US advert...
- Girderwork and selecti...
- Hudson locomotive 5200...
- Hudson locomotive 5200...
- Mysto Erector (PopM 19...
- Mysto-Magic Conjuring...
- New York Central 12-wh...