Rest In Play - 1960 thru 1969

A. C. Gilbert

2023-01-26 05:29:42

The Greatest Generation’s Greatest Toymaker A gifted athlete and pole-vaulting gold medalist at the 1908 London Olympics, Gilbert was also a talented illusionist who financed his Yale medical sch...ool education performing as a magician. Choosing magic over medicine, the 24-year-old Gilbert and a partner formed the Mysto Manufacturing Company in New Haven in 1909 to sell tricks to would-be prestidigitators. While the company enjoyed magical sales, Gilbert’s great inspiration came while riding the New York and New Haven Railroad in 1911. Fascinated by the girders being used to string the electric lines that would convert the run to New York from steam to electric power, Gilbert conceived of creating a toy that would let boys use girder-like steel pieces to construct an array of models – battleships, bridges, dirigibles, skyscrapers – by hand. The Erector set was born, and with it, the concept of the educational toy that would help the American toy industry achieve mass-market footing. In 1913, Gilbert broke away from his partner, renamed his firm the A. C. Gilbert Gilbert-the-manager A. C. Gilbert (Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop) Company, and began manufacturing and marketing the Erector set nationally. Gilbert was the first person to advertise toys in national magazines, and his approach was to promote the sets to boys and girls and their parents as hands-on, fun projects that simultaneously taught skills and character. The character-building aspect of Erector set project construction came through the difficulty of building the models. Not only did the nuts and bolts construction take significant manual dexterity, the would-be builder had to be particularly observant of the limited-instruction illustrations (can you say Ikea?). Gilbert also marketed primarily to boys directly, beginning brochures with “Hello Boys,” and inviting them to write him personally, making sure each one who did received an A. C. Gilbert response. READ MORE....Show more