Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

October 16, 2013

The toy that changed the way children play

(Continued)

Two major change during the 1940s were the inclusion of the parachute jump and the substitution of wooden girders in place of steel during the war years. In 1950, the company changed their marking from 12/12 to a different serial number for each model and later. The 50s also saw the realease of one of their most collectible Erector Sets, the “Amusement Park” set, which is currently selling online in the $150 to $200 range.

Recent action results have shown the growing interest not only in pre-1962 Erector Sets but also in individual rare parts, instruction books, empty metal and wooden Erector cases and advertising pieces.

Realized prices include: an early wooden box $144, a first edition of “Greenburg’s Guide to Gilbert Erector” $250 and a box lot of miscellaneous parts for The Hudson Locomotive and Tender Set $612.

A. C. Gilbert saw great accomplishment during his life time. He was a talented magician, a Graduate of Yale Medical School, a record holding athlete, a genius in the field of marketing and a noted inventor with more than 150 patents to his credit.

But to many in the field of toy manufacturing, his greatest achievement came in the fall of 1918 when the government considered banning the production of metal toys to assist the war effort. Combining his congenial personality, his insight into human nature (and a few magic tricks), Gilbert went to the Council of National Defense to plead his case.

Realizing the mindset of those he was addressing he ended his presentation by gifting each member of the council with a miniature Erector tank and these words: “Children not only play with toys, they learn from them. Toys help a child to develop a sense of what is important, including a responsibility to their country and its military efforts.” The Council dismissed their plans to to ban toy production and Gilbert was celebrated in the press as “The man who saved Christmas.” Later in life, he would tell a friend it was his most cherished accomplishment.

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