The first construction toy set was patented in England by Frank Hornby in 1901. These toys, named Meccano in 1907, consisted of half-inch-wide metal strips with holes at half-inch intervals. The strips could be connected with metal rods and wheels to build bridges, buildings, and vehicles of all sorts.

A certain American entrepreneur, named A.C. Gilbert, claims he saw workers carrying the steel beams for an electrical power grid while traveling on a train, and that inspired him to introduce the Erector set in 1913. But the truth is that Gilbert, who had been selling his Mysto Magic Kits, had probably seen or heard of Meccano.

However, Gilbert improved on Hornby’s concept by including gears, pinions, and electrical motors in his kits to make them more versatile. Unlike Meccano’s steel strips, Erector’s were bent at a 90-degree angle so that four of them put together could form a hollow support beam. In the 1920s, Gilbert took over the American branch of Meccano, which by then was popular all over the world.

Gilbert opened his namesake “halls of science” during World War II. While the concern was really a place for him to market his toys, including Erector sets, American Flyer trains, and his chemistry sets and other science kits, Gilbert insisted that teaching children, and specifically boys, the principles of science and engineering was his No. 1 priority.

Gilbert died in 1961. The Erector name was first sold to Gabriel Toys in the '60s, and later to Ideal Toys.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

1938 Erector Set / Crane Wooden Box , Very Cool!!Gilbert Erector #12 1/2 Set Instruction Manual, 1949/50 Vintage, Original Partial Erector Sets Zeppelin No. 8 & Airplane Mismatched UnorganizedVintage 1957 10 1/2 A.c. Gilbert Erector Set1949 Gilbert Erector No. 10 ½ Amusement Park Set Building ToyGilbert Erector #10 1/2 Set Instruction Manual, 1950's Vintage, Original 1930's Gilbert Erecter Set, World's Champion Toy, Older Set, W/older Motor EtcGilbert Erector & Toy Catalog, 8 Pages, 1930, D-822-100m-30, Original Gilbert Erector P-58 6-8 Volt Motor, 1920's Vintage, OriginalMeccano Outfit 4a (1919 - Nickel) For The Spanish MarketGilbert Erector Set- Misc Parts, Pieces, In Origianl Metal Box4 Gilbert Erector "es" Small Wheels, Red, Late 1920's Vintage, OriginalA.c. Gilbert 1921 Dealer Toys Catalog, 32 Pages, Original 20 X #59(x15) & #63(x 5)vintage Meccano(collar/various & Coupling) BrassGilbert Erector & Toy Catalog, 8 Pages, 1931, Original Gilbert Erector Set # 10 1/2, Makes The Amusement Part Set, Merry Go Round EtcMeccano Mechanisms OutfitMeccano Outfit 1 (1911) NickelGilbert Erector Set Lot Of Train Parts/motors+constructioneer Set #8 W/case6 X #20a(black Pulley Wheel) & 6 X #142a(tyre)vintage Meccano (vgc)Gilbert "how To Sell Erector" By A.c. Gilbert, Dated 1916, Original Gilbert Erector And Toy Marketing Brochure, 4 Pages, 1931 Vintage, Original Gilbert Erector "how To Become A Master Engineer" Booklet, Teen's Vintage, Orig 2 Gilbert Erector "ew" 12 Inch Duplex Flat Baseplates, OriginalGilbert Erector A-48 Wind-up Motor, Cadmium, Original2 A.c. Gilbert American Flyer Ho Tender Whistles, 1940's Vintage, OriginalA.c. Gilbert Olympic Sports Book, 1928 Edition, Original Gilbert "how To Sell Briktor" By A.c. Gilbert, Dated 1916, Original A.c. Gilbert Boy Athletics Booklet, Dated 1922, Original Meccano Trix 3 Outfit (nickel)New Erector Clock #7651 Crazy Inventors Builds 3 Models 527 Parts 2006 Ages8-88!Gilbert Erector Dealer Parts Cabinet Promotion, Dated 1915, Original Collection(x74 Part)1930s Dark Green Meccano(12.5" Angle Girders/strip/bracket8 Gilbert Erector "nf" 6 Inch Office Entrance Skyscraper Panels, Reproduction2 A.c. Gilbert American Flyer Ho Reading Cabooses, 1950's Vintage, OriginalMeccano/gilbert Scotland Yard Detective Kit Instructions, 1936, M1721,original 2 Meccano Factory Model Metal Signs, 1960's Vintage, OriginalGilbert Erector And Toys Dealer Special Sales Brochure, Early 1920's, Original Gilbert Kaster Kit Booklet, Dated 1931, M1340, Original Vintage A.c. Gilbert Hair Dryer Polar Cub Erector American Flyer (works Good!!)6 Gilbert Erector "of" Paper Horses, Original Erector Set Parts Early Ac Gilbert 380 PartsGilbert Mysto Advertising Card For New Chicago Office, 1915 Vintage, Original Gilbert Mysto Magic #5 Instruction Booklet, Dated 1933, M1476, Original 4 Gilbert Erector "ex" 12 Inch Big Channel Girders, Red, OriginalAc Gilbert Erector Ex 12 Inch & 6" Inch Curved Big Channel Girders, 11 Total9 X #95(x6) &)#96(x3) (vintage Meccano) Sprocket Wheel (all #1 Toy Balloon Outfit Instructions, Dated 1933, M1494, Original 7 X #8(1930s Dark Green) Meccano(12.5" Angle Girders) Very Good ConditionGilbert Erector And Toys Dealer Price List, Dated Feb 1st, 1925, Original Gilbert Mineralogy Instructions, Dated 1922, Original 4 Gilbert Erector "ey" 6 Inch Big Channel Girders, Red, Original10 Gilbert Erector Outside Box Labels, ReproductionsNos Vintage Gilbert Erector #7.5 Engineer's Set W/reversing Motor~metal Case*antique '30s Erector Set Car Truck Chassis Bed Gilbert A.c. Gilbert Knots & Splices Booklet, 84 Pages, Teen's Vintage, Original Gilbert Erector Electrical Set Booklet, Dated 1932, M1056-a, Original Vintage Erector Electric Engine And Speed ControlerA.c. Gilbert Puzzle Parties Manual, Teen's Vintage, Original 9 X #26/#25/#32 Vintage Meccano(various Pinion/worm Gear) Brass