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Science and Magic Kits

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Posted by Abhishek Kumar Sadhu at 1: Newer Post Older Post Home. Become a follower of this site through Google Plus or Blogger Feel free to email me at sadhubani gmail. About Abhishek Kumar Sadhu. Thanks to our reader John, we discovered that this booklet was intended to accompany a Gilbert Set that dealt with electricity. I have scanned this brochure, and it is available in the Downloads Section Aids to Restoration in two roughly equal parts of about 3.

Here is an older electric eye set that we found. It has a cardboard box instead of a metal case, butthe components are roughly equivalent. The manual is identical with the version shown above. By the s, the separate Optics and Hydraulics kits had been merged into a general Physics Set. As was the trend at that picture, a girl was shown on the box, although it looks like it is the Boy's younger sister.

There were 70 pieces of apparatus enabling the budding Physicist to show Sis "hundreds" of experiments involving Solar heat, Light and Optics, Fluid Dynamics, Water and Air Pressure, and "many, many others. This toy will cause most Concerned Moms to have an unexpected bowel movement. It actually allows the child to play with molten metal. The typical Yuppie Mom would blanch at the thought that their precious lawyer-to-be might be melting lead!

This, and the glass blowing set would be run out of the market faster than you can say "tort reform. Here is a very early kit that shows a child that looks like he is between six and nine -- this one requires the Boy to use an open ladle of molten metal! Regardless of current politically correct thinking, the casting set was quite popular and a generation of boys in the s made whole armies of lead.

In addition, the equipment uses a fairly sophisticated die casting technique in which metal is poured into reusable metal molds. The kit offered a machine that handled most of the chores such as melting the lead and pouring into the mold.

The casting sets initially allowed the Boy to cast solid figures. Later, a technology known as "Slush Casting" was used to allow the casting of hollow objects -- at a great savings in metal. The Molds Gilbert spelled the word "mould" were metal plates with the appropriate opening to create a figure. The mold had to be "lubricated" with candle soot to allow the cast object to be released properly.

Over the years, more than 50 figures were available including Military, Sports and Transportation subjects. The list of figures and prices in are shown below, along with an example of a casting of a mounted figure.

With this set, one could build a variety of airplanes with one or two wings, wheels or floats, and one, two or three AC-powered engines. The motor drew power from a wall or ceiling receptacle. An ingenious pivot system prevented the cord from becoming tangled.

In thinking about the "Air-Kraft" kits, you should remember that they were being marketed in the period Actual airplanes were not that much more sophisticated than the planes in the kit! Here is another thing to give Mom agita. The Boy was encouraged to use molten glass to make a large number of interesting items and to perform 80 experiments.

The Manual used the standard Gilbert formula of about half "magic tricks" and half hard science to teach glassblowing. At the time, this was apractical skill and even useful in College. Most universities required that Chemistry students learn glassblowing to make apparatus. These skills would have come in very handy during Freshman year. There is a glass industry website that will let you read the entire manual on a page by page basis without the ability to download. Click Here to go to that site.

However, we have also scanned our copy of the manual and have made it available for you to download in easy-to-digest 10 page segments of about 2 MB each:. Apparently, it was possible to get The Boy interested in Hydraulics.

The Boy Engineering book on this subject is a masterpiece that blends parlor tricks and gee-whiz military stuff like torpedoes, depth charges and zeppelins with some honest-to-gosh mathematical computations. This is a very well-written book and is probably above the heads of most non-engineering American adults in the 21st Century. Apparently, the Hydraulics Set was a perennial best seller because it was retained well into the s in almost the same format as the original. The obvious link between weather and the physics of water and air was not overlooked.

The cover led the Boy to believe that he could set his own scientific Weather Station:. We have scanned our copy and have made it available in the Free Downloads Section. About the time of the First World War , the Gilbert company sold a number of sets devoted to communication, including Telephone, telgraph and Wireless.

Perhaps the best of the sets is devoted to the process rather than the technology of communication. It aptly named the Signal Engineering Set. This is one of the very best Gilbert science kits, not because of the equipment provided, but the clarity of the little instruction booklet.

Gilbert had to say:. I remember how I used to watch army men at signal practice. It was mighty fascinating to see them at the camp with their apparatus and to observe the methods they used to send messages.

It looked hard, but when I thought it over it seemed very easy Signaling will prove just as interesting to you as it did to me, and because I think it means a great amount of fun for you, I have had this book prepared by a man who was an expert in signals and who did very fine work in the Navy as a member of the Signal Corps.

Every detail is explained with the greatest care. The facts are authentic and you can depend on this book to give you a thorough knowledge of signaling. You can learn about signals from the very beginning when firebrands were used in a primitive fashion many years ago to the present time when messages are flashed and sent by the most modern inventions The manual a real gem -- I'm proud to have it in my collection and I have gone out of my way to make sure that it is available to you.

Through the magic of the Internet, you may read only the Signal Engineering Book by following these links:. We have the entire page document on the site in case you would like to Download the Gilbert Signal Engineering Book for your own purposes. Of course, the Gilbert Company did not slight the actual technology of communication.

First, we'll look at the Telegraph Set. By , wire-transmitted telegraphy was fairly "old hat" although the ulra-modern "wireless" see below still used Morse Code. Certainly, a knowledge of Morse Code would have been useful and thus, the telegraph set was a fairly big seller.

With the Tele-Set, Boys could pretend that they were running a real telegraph office since the kit was supplied with replicat Wetern Union telegram blanks.

However, Gilbert was not one to rest on his laurels -- he plunged ahead with both current telephone and futuristic wireless technology. The wireless set uses an actual spark transmitter with a fairly limited range. Nonetheless, the technology in the Gilbert kit was virtually the same as used in commercial activities with the sole exception of size. The 65 page instruction book would bring the Boy who had the patience to read it to the state of the art in Some time later, probably in the mid s, the Gilbert company also sold a crystal radio receiver for Boys.

At that time, home sets were not that much different from the Gilbert set, as tube amplifiers were just coming onto the scene. The Gilbert Company offered the Boy the ability to build communications sets well into the s, tailoring the projects to advances in technology.

Here is something called the Erec-Tronics kit from that offered the Boy the opportunity to work with the [then] new transistor.

The name is a portmanteau of "Erector" and "Electronics" propelling the Erector set into the space age. The set uses "plug board" technology so that the Boy did not have to do any soldering. Gilbert introduced his first magnetism set in and produced variations through the s. Gilbert could trace his ancestory to William Gilbert , the English physician whose De Magnete was the first modern study of magnetism in nature.

The book Magnetic Fun and Facts encouraged The Boy to explore magnetic phenomena, although no theory is presented. Magnetism is one of the fundamental elements of our society today. Magnets can be found in any electric motor, refrigerators, tools and utensils, and even some games. Magnets have two poles, the north and south poles.

When two like poles are put together, they repel, but when unlike poles are put together, they attract each other. In the atoms the smallest particles of matter of all materials, there are electrons revolving around the nucleus of the atom. Each electron is a small magnet. However, in unmagnetized materials, the electrons are all jumbled up. In a magnet, the electrons are all lined up, creating a magnetic force.

In magnetic materials, like iron, the electrons can be lined up when in the presence of a magnet Here are a few illustrations from the book. Note that the Boy is pictured on the cover of the set as he pushes his "magnetic navy" around while simultaneously learning about polarity.

Gilbert of "save Christmas" fame made War Toys. Concerned Moms may dump a load when they find out that he made a very realistic Toy Machine Gun. At the height of World War I -- perhaps the greatest carnage man has ever known, the Gilbert Company sold a working machine gun that fired wood bullets! Contrast that with today: On July 5, , the Washington Post ran a letter from a Concerned Mom who objected to the printing of a picture of a firearm.

She didn't want her "two year old son" to be unduly influenced. The other major surprise here is that the advertsement for the Machine Gun was printed in The Literary Digest! If you want to make your own, use this link to download the Complete Patent Description. The Gilbert company also manufactured a very realistic submarine. These things were made of pressed metal and were intended to be operated in water. Due to the nature of rust, very few of these are available today.

The Gilbert Company offered a set of miniature machine tools -- a lathe, drill press, punch press, grinder, and scroll saw -- that actually worked like their real-world counterparts. The lathe was about six inches long and three inches high as an example.

The tools could be driven by an electric motor. Shafting, held by "A-Frames," was used to interconnect the machinery, again much like a real world machine shop. This is one of the most astounding of the Gilbert toys and is one of the rarest. This was not kid stuff.

In the s, there were no "Self-Esteem" trophies. Every Boy was assumed to be capable until he proved otherwise. The popularity of these kits proved that 10 year olds are capable of a whole lot more than is generally assumed. The manual raised the possiblity of detecting submarines from the air when both subs and planes were in their infancy.

Mosst of this stuff is still correct today. The glaring error is mention of the "Ether" pink as the stuff that filled all the spaces between the atoms. Alas, the Michelson-Morley Experiment disproved this notion once and for all, and paved the way for modern theories of how light operates.

Click Here to download a copy of the Manual for the Optics Set. In conjunction with the Optics sets, Gilbert also sold fairly high quality reflecting telescopes. In , Gilbert produced a science kit that taught the fundamentals of Sound. These kits were elegantly designed, but very few survive -- I have never even seen a photograph of one.

In other words, they were beyond the reach of most Boys. The fortunate few boys who did get a "Sound Experiments" set had the opportunity to read a very well-written manual and to perform some very interesting experiments. In keeping with Mr. Gilbert's philosophy, straight science is also accompanied with "Boy Fun" things like ventriloquism or breaking a glass with sound.

Right now, you can read the manual because we have scanned it and now make it available to you for free in six easy-todownload parts:. Here's another one to turn Concerned Moms' hair gray.

This kit actually equipped the Boy with a red-hot soldering iron. In those times, soldering was avery useful skill in a lot of trades such as roofing, tinsmithing, jewelry and electrical work. In fact, this kit gave many a Boy a leg up in search of a trade. Little lawyers wouldn't know one end of the soldering iron from the other. Lots of Chinese kids know about this stuff. Originally, they were called "Brik-Tor" sort of a portmanteau for "Brick Consructor". Later, they were called "Erector-Brik" capitalizing on the famous "Erector" marque.

In the early days of the Gilbert Company, it appears that the Boy was encouraged to buy a Brik-Tor set to cover the outside of models constructed with the Erector set, hoping to duplicate the process of construction in the real world.

The bricks themselves did not lock together and large structures were somewhat unstable. The bricks were made of a composition material that tended to crumble over time.

Lego was a great improvement over this system; sincle Lego tiles lock together, models of almost infinite size have been made. The Gilbert Company experimented with locking tiles and briefly old a system called "Anchor Blocks" as shown below. These sets are fairly rare and were only made for a few years in the s. Here's your chance to give Mother and Dad a real surprise. Build furniture, airplanes, toys, birdhouses, and hundreds of other things Lift the lid of the big red brass-bound Tool Chest and you open up a new world of exciting thrills.

Call in your pals. How their eyes will pop! Thus began the opening sales pitch for the Gilbert "Big Boy" tool chest. There was also a jigsaw see below This was serious money then and is serious money now. Of all the Gilbert products, the Tool Chests raise the most questions in my mind, because during the "Golden Age" most households had a full complement of tools, especially hammers, saws and screwdrivers. No doubt, the "Boys Sets" had tools that were sized correctly for kids younger than 10; presumably the "Dad Sized" Big Boy chests had the adult version of the tools.

If you wanted to spend the money, you could even get a set that looked like a workbench. The graphics thoroughly overstate the contents of the smaller sets. In fact, the carpenter's apron featured so prominently in the ads is only included in the "Dad Size. I wondered what the possible benefits of buying the Gilbert Tool Chests would be over, say, just buying the individual tools.

So, I took the E set 13 pc and used the Sears Catalogue to get an estimate of the retail price of the individual components. This is shown below. The ad above is for and I only had the Sears Catalogue, so there is some error in the comparison. The following pictures should help you judge the quality of the tools in the "Big Boy" sets left against actual carpenter's tools from that period right.

Gilbert's profit lay in the difference between regular Sears "Craftsman" grade tools and the "Boys" tools actually included in the set. It should be noted that my analysis is severely limited by the fact that I do not have an exact listing of the contents for each of the various tool chests. If any of my readers have this information, I would be delighted to hear from them -- feel free to Contact Me.

The ad states that the chest should be red, and the natural wood version might be from an earlier period, since it is clearly labeled "". Above, you'll find some photos of a "Dad Sized" chest, possibly , the beginning of that series.

I note that the chisels have socket handles which is desirable, because the handle will fit tighter as the tool is used. This is a desirable feature and is generally more costly than the tang handle. In my opinion, these are not the highest quality tools. On the other hand, the apparatus in the chemistry or microscope sets was not of the highest quality either. I still have trouble understanding why a Boy would want to spend money on something like this when Dad probably had all these tools to begin with.

Above are some photos of Big Boy tool sets in metal cases, probably from the s. It appears that documentation of the Tool Sets is slight compared to the Erector sets.

If you have scans of manuals, parts lists, etc, please think about sending them to me so that I can make them available on the site. If you know how to authenticate Gilbert tools, agan, please let me know! You can really help the next guy who wants to buy one of these things! I don't charge anything for the downloads or information. One of our readers responded to the challenge and sent us the manual for one of the tool sets. We have scanned it and it is now available for download. Since it has 83 pages, we are making it available in small bits so that you can download it faster.

In , the Gilbert company satd that: With a Gilbert Electrical Set and a fine book on electricty, boys can do elecroplating, install electric bells, elecric lights, make a real electric motor, and perform many feats of electrical magic This is a very simple kit that shows the Boy how to connect a number of useful and educational circuits.

Just in case you can't read the ad, here is the text: New discoveries and inventions, as great as those of the past, are going to be made by boys who commence to study these things now.

They are going to be the Edisons of tomorrow. These Gilbert sets are practical working outfits with which you can learn a great deal, and at the same time have great fun. The Gilbert Sets are thoroughly made and are for sale by all dealers. Write for the Gilbert Catalog which illustrates and describes fully these and many other Gilbert Toys. Prices subject to change without notice. It looks like the Gilbert company put together a few wires, sockets and light bulbs to convince Boys that they could light up their Erector models.

Building on knowledge and technology from the American Flyer Trains, the Gilbert folks came up with a kit that would add realistic sound and smoke to Erector projects. Gilbert looked around and saw that Boys would cobble together almost any old parts to make a scooter, coaster, wagon or other "vehicle".

Most likely, the wheels came off a discarded item like a perambulator. In many cases, the wheels didn't even match in size. Gilbert invented an "all purpose wheel" that bore a strange resemblance to baby buggy wheels.

He then packaged these along with axles, cotter pins, brackets and the like that would enable the Boy to make any number of fanciful vehicles. Apparently, the Boy was supposed to supply the wooden parts. The toy was heavy and came in a thin wooden box that breaks easily. As a result, there are very, very few mint condition "New Wheel Toy" sets. This is an expensive and hard-to-find item, suitable only for the most avid collector. If you have one, insure it. I don't know how, but Mr. Gilbert managed to get patents for things like a scooter, a wheelbarrow and a wagon.

It has to do with the nature of the connectors and parts rather than the overall design, but it does seem odd. Just in case you are curious about how Mr. Gilbert was able to patent these mundane toys, we are making the complete patent description available to you at no cost. The original motorized Erector Sets required the Boy to assemble the electric motor from parts. This appears to be akit that features just the motor and not the girders.

Gilbert started out in Magic and never lost his flair for it. He continued to manufacture Mysto Magic Sets, and never failed to include some form of entertaining illusion in his Science sets. Gilbert even included in his basic kit a checklist of the tricks that might be prformed at "Parties, Smokers and Stage Entertainment" , indicating that the Boy could be ready for the Big Time in no time if he bought and mastered the kit.

You may learn more about the Mysto Magic Set by downloading the Mysto Instruction book free of charge, of course. All you have to do is Click here. Gilbert also sold some more specialized magic kits, such as the "Knots and Splices" set shown above. These kits are fairly rare. However,we have been very fortunate to obtain a copy of the manuals for these sets, including not only Knots and Splices but also Handkerchief Tricks and Coin Tricks.

We do not have a copy of the instruction manual for the very rare Card Tricks set. If you have such a manual, please consider scanning it and sending it to us, so that we may make it available to the public. For the time being, we are including an article on "Simple Card Tricks" that appeared in the May, issue of Popular Mechanics. We have scanned the three manuals that we have and offer them for your reading pleasure; we have split them into four sections each so that they will download quickly.

Click on the hyperlinks below to download each of the various sections. Gilbert also used magic in promotional items -- here is a trick designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gilbert Company called the "Holetite Pencil". Gilbert never lost his interest in entertainment. The Boy had to have fun as well as learn something. These puzzles were an exercise in manual dexterity -- and unitendedly prepared the Boy for the various occupational tests that were administered by Industry.

Several of these puzzles actually appeared on the Army General Classification Test used to screen recruits. The puzzles involved separating wires or nails that appeared to be inextricably twisted together. Gilbert also provided "The Trick" to solving the puzzle. This is sort of "SAT Coaching" style. In addition to twisted wires, the Gilbert company also offered "Hand Puzzles" -- this was a glass-topped cardboard box with some loose items inside.

The object was to carefully maneuver the box to cause the objects into slots or holes or onto pegs. This typoe of hand puzzle is quite similar to the "Game Boy" portable video game of today. Our favorite is the "Atom Bomb Puzzle" in which the Boy was supposed to cause a capsule-like token to fit into holes corresponding to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a map of Japan.

No political correctness in At the end of the Gilbert Company's life, the hand puzzles remained, but it looks like a large committee of Concerned Moms go told of them. However, the "Atom Bomb" puzzle managed to sneak through amongst the remaining insipid items.

This is a very rare kit that enabled the Boy and his Sister, if the pictures are right to "Make Balloons from Liquid Rubber. It contains a pamphlet of instructions, two balloon molds, two jars of liquid latex, one can of talcum powder, two stands one plugs into a light fixture so that it heats the balloon mold and latex , a stirring rod and a tweezer-like tool.

The jar is opened and the latex is stirred slowly to mix the coloring agent. Talcum powder is rubbed on the balloon mold. This will help the balloon to be removed later. The balloon mold in dipped into the liquid latex and then placed upright on the heater stand.

The heat causes the latex to vulcanize and become rubber. At the appointed time, the rubber balloon is removed from the mold. Below is a photo of Dewey's own set and a copy of the patent drawing for the process that underlies the kit. This is a very unusual toy from the s. It is one of the very few Gilbert toys that does not use proper spelling.

In addition, the typography on the box suggests a kid who is having trouble forming letters. At that time one of the techniques for showing that something was for or done by kids was to use phonetic spelling and mal-formed letters such as a mirror-image letter "N" - it is, however, unusual that Gilbert would use such a device because he always wrote for an audience of Boys who could read, write and spell. The set has all the fundamentals of animation -- the only problem is that the "films" are only four frames long.

YES, it is a "moovy" albeit a very short one. The system uses cellophane "slides" that have four slightly different image. Each image is illuminated by its own 1 Watt bulb. The cellophane strip is placed in a curved chamber so that each image is projected on to the same spot on a cloth screen.

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