From The Brighton Toy and Model Index
Toy Brands and Manufacturers

Gilbert logo.jpg


1909 - 1967
Advert for Gilbert Outfits, illustrating the range of smaller product lines sold by Gilbert (Meccano Magazine)
1939 UK advert for Gilbert's recently-acquired American Flyer brand model trains

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.

Mae West

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.

External links

Erector, A.C. Gilbert:

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public displays


This category has the following 3 subcategories, out of 3 total.




  • Meccano(23 C, 68 P, 290 F)

Media in category ‘Gilbert’

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