Category:American Model Builder

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Toy Brands and Manufacturers

American Model Builder, logo.jpg

American Model Builder

1913 -     

American Model Builder was a "Meccano clone" produced in the United States for a few years by the American Mechanical Toy Co. (1911?-) of Dayton, Ohio, until they were sued by Frank Hornby (who had invented and patented Meccano in 1901). The system was being advertised in Popular Mechanics in 1913, and set artwork also seems to be 1913.

Frank Hornby vs American Mechanical Toy Co.

Hornby considered AMB to be the most egregious violator of his patents, because they had not only copied the parts of his system, but also parts of the instruction manuals.

After Hornby had won the (long, expensive) court case, he set up a Meccano manufacturing plant in the US, in Elizabeth, New Jersey.


The (1913?) box artwork for American Model Builder says that a US patent had been applied for and a Canadian patent granted. We haven't found a record of the Canadian patent, but "John R. Keller, Crafton, Allegheny, Pennsylvania" of the American Mechanical Toy Co. was granted a US patent in 1917 for a clip for attaching Meccano-style strips to each other at an angle.

There is also a 1920 patent for a motorised wheel with electrical contacts for use in computing.

1913 advertising text:


Boys like to build – to create – not simply play. Here is a wonderful new game that will completely fascinate them – hold them entranced by the hour. It takes them into the stirring realm of steel – the gigantic building operations of this great age.

YOU GET AS INTERESTED as your boy in this wonderful new mechanical game – building all sorts of models in steel – just like the gigantic masterpieces of real steel builders. You and he will get closer than ever. He'll learn while being amused. Finest game ever invented. Endorsed by leading educators – Y.M.C.A's – schools, etc. It's

The American Model Builder

made of steel and brass, nickeled, and consists of beams, girders, angle irons, wheels, bolts, etc. Same material, in miniature as used by the great steel builders. Seven sizes – $1.00 up. Can be added to at any time.

1915 advertising text:

Say fellows! Here's the Boss of 'em all!

The American Model Builder! Gives you 15% more new and novel parts! Builds more practical working models! Builds models impossible with other outfits! Our big manual shows 370 models, and hundred of others can be made. Every part made of fines brass and cold-rolled steel, double-plated. A real electrical motor given free with most sets.

Boys, what do you think of that? Don't you say its many big improvements make the American Model Builder the "Boss of 'em all?"

Think what you can do with 15% more new and novel parts – such as real automobile wheels, car wheels, truck frames, bolster plates, "T" strips, ratchet pawls, new gears and angle irons!

Think of building a big grandfather's clock that will run for two hours; a stationary engine that will go like a real engine; traveling crane that will actually lift; derricks, windmills, automobiles, elevators, printing presses, trolley cars, pile drivers, warships, hoist bridges, and hundreds of other models that you can really operate!

Free! A real electric motor

This high-grade powerful electric motor is included with even the medium-priced sets of the American Model Builder. It has bronze bearings throughout, finest wiring, brushes, commutator, etc. Not a toy, but a real motor in miniature, capable of lifting ten pounds. Can be operated on dry cells, or on city current through our inexpensive transformer.

— , The American Mechanical Toy Co., , Popular Mechanics, , December 1915


  • American Mechanical Toy Co. 420 East Street, Dayton, Ohio.
  • Nerlich & Co., Toronto, Canada

Links and references

  • "The American Model Builder", Meccano Magazine, October 1978 pages 134-135

Media in category ‘American Model Builder’

The following 3 files are in this category, out of 3 total.