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    

Meccano Vintage Pair Of Bevel Gears Part No 30 Barn FindMeccano Vintage Bevel Gears In Original Package Binns Road Barn Find8x Vintage Meccano Part 142l(p) Road TyresGilbert Toys Vintage Metal Erector Set Antique Wooden Case No. 7 W/ MotorGilbert Erector Set No 10 1/2 Amusement Park SetGilbert/greenerg's Guide To Gilbert Erector Sets Volume Ii, Copyright 1997175 Gilbert Erector "c" 10 Inch Girders, Nickel, OriginalMeccano Vintage Mid Red 12.5 X 2.5 Inch Strip Plates X 5 Part No 197 . Barn FindGilbert/greenberg's Guide To Gilbert Erector Sets Volume I, Copyright 1993A. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Parts 63 Girders 12''New Old Stock 1917 No 2 Ac Gilbert Erector Set In Box W/manual & Uncut CouponsGilbert Erector P-58 6-8 Volt Motor, OriginalA. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Instruction ManualCollection X 10*vintage Meccano* Brass Worm Gear & Pinion(#25#26#32)Lot Of Three 1914-1920 A.c. Gilbert Erector Sets Parts Plus Manuals Wooden BoxBottom Of Gilbert Erector Zeppelin Set With All 5 Large Cardboard BoxesA. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Parts 50 Girders 6''Early Erector Electric Motor On Drive Gear Base Pullies 5144523 Gilbert Erector Machine Frames, Late 1920's Vintage, OriginalVintage Original A.c Gilbert's Erector Set Amusement Park Parts Ferris Wheel?Gilbert Erector Electric Eye Assembly, Late 1930's Vintage, Original1920's Gilbert Erector Set Girders 48-10 1/2" Long & 4 Angle 12 3/4"Gilbert Erector "mj" Electromagnet, OriginalVintage Meccano Mixed Lot Nuts And Bolts 374gm 144315 X #59(x10) & #63(x 4)vintage Meccano(collar/various & Coupling) BrassVintage Gilbert Erector Set 8 1/2 Ferris Wheel - Motor Works! Electro Magnet!Vintage Erector Parts Motor Magnet Gears Pulleys More See PicsAntique Vintage Tin Metal Toy 1924 Ac Gilbert Erector Set2 Gilbert Erector "ew" 12 Inch Duplex Flat Baseplates, Black, OriginalA. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Parts 2 Propeller Blades1920s Gilbert Erector Set 3" & 5" Base Plates 7-10" & 2-5" Perforated Strips 32+C1928 Gilbert Erector Set Parts 6-6" & Big Channel Girders & 8 Base PlatesVintage 1959 Gilbert Erector "the Rocket Launcher Set" No. 10053 In Metal Case2 Gilbert Erector "nh" Lamp Sockets, Early 1940's Vintage, OriginalGilbert Erector Set # 10051 The Electric Engine Set Crane Motor Book PaperworkA. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Parts Double AnglesA. C. Gilbert 1913 The Mysto Erector Set Parts 22 Girders 3''Set Of 6 Original Gilbert Erector Horses "plastic"2 Gilbert Erector "u" Boiler Tops, Red, Original18 X #8a/#8b/#9/#9d/#9f Vintage Meccano Angle Girder(med Green)Gilbert Erector A-48 Wind-up Motor, Blue, Early 1940's Vintage, OriginalVintage Gilbert Erector 7 1/2 Set - Aluminum Box - Tons Of Extra Pieces 1929 Steel-tech #77 Manual Of Instructions - Ac Gilbert100 Gilbert Erector "n" Long Double Angles, Original Vintage 60s Gilbert Erector Set W/ Toolbox Toy ConstructionVintage A C Gilbert Mysto Magic Instruction BookMeccano Parts Motor 17 Piece Lot Meccano Special Edition In Great Condition 3vGilbert Erector "e" And "b" GirdersGilbert Erector #1 1/2 Set, 1951, With Manual. Very NiceVintage Gilbert Erector Set, #10063, The Action Conveyor Set, 1950s5 Junk Erector MotorsGilbert Erector "mi" Front Axle Unit, Nickel, Original15 Gilbert Erector P-13b 12-tooth Pinion Gears, Original75 Gilbert Erector P-7 Pulleys, 7/8 Inch Diameter, Brass Sintered , Original2 Gilbert Erector #16 9x9 Hole Baseplates, 1960's Vintage, OriginalMeccano Pulley Lot Of 6 Part Number 19b In Great Pre-owned Condition18 Gilbert Erector "ej" Gearbox Bases, Red, Original2 Gilbert Erector #hi Gondola Struts50 Gilbert Erector "cj" 36-tooth Gears, Original23 Gilbert Erector "q" 11-hole Baseplates, Red, Original