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The Erector Set turns 100:
real-life magic from a Yale doctor

If you were a young Yale-trained physician and Olympic gold medalist in pole vaulting, you would surely decide to make your living in the magic business. And, riding the train between your Mysto Manufacturing Company in New Haven and your magic store in New York, you would surely be inspired by the construction of the railroad's steel electricity towers to invent a toy whose magic lay not in illusion but in ingenuity: a collection of metal parts that kids could fashion into bridges, cranes, ferris wheels.

At least, you surely would do those things if you were Alfred Carlton Gilbert, who graduated from the School of Medicine in 1909 and introduced his Erector Set at the New York Toy Fair in 1913. "Hello Boys! Make Lots of Toys!" the ads said, and they did—the A. C. Gilbert Company sold 30 million Erector Sets in 30 years.

An exhibit at the Eli Whitney Museum—just over the New Haven line in Hamden—celebrates the Erector Set's 100th anniversary. "The Erector Set at 100" joins "Mr Gilbert’s Railroad," the museum’s annual holiday-season exhibition of Gilbert's American Flyer trains.

Filed under A. C. Gilbert, Erector Set
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