Learn about a revolutionary toy and its remarkable inventor at 'Erector Set: The Toy That Built America'

  • From 1913 to the 1960s, Erector Sets were a popular toy under the Christmas tree. Learn about the man who invented it, A.C. Gilbert, during "Headlines From History" on Dec. 7.

    From 1913 to the 1960s, Erector Sets were a popular toy under the Christmas tree. Learn about the man who invented it, A.C. Gilbert, during "Headlines From History" on Dec. 7. Courtesy of Cantigny

  • Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson

 
 
Posted11/30/2022 8:09 PM

Cantigny Park in Wheaton continues its "Headlines from History" series with "The Toy that Built America," a presentation by Bruce Watson, author of "The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made."

The free program will be offered at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, in person at the Cantigny Park Visitors Center (parking $5) and also online. Those needing a Zoom link should register in advance at Cantigny.org.

 

If you are a certain age, the Erector Set needs no introduction.

From 1913 to the 1960s, the boy-centric construction toy was a Christmas morning staple.

The man who invented it, A.C. Gilbert, became a household name by creating a world of contests, camaraderie, and boyish advice that nurtured millions of American kids. For a time, the A.C. Gilbert Company was among the largest toy manufacturers in the world.

Bruce Watson, seen recently on the History Channel's "Toys that Built America," will explain how Gilbert, a marketing genius, abandoned his Yale medical degree to become a lifelong boy at play in the world of toy manufacturing.

Watson is the author of four well-reviewed books and three dozen feature articles for Smithsonian.

Now retired from freelancing, he spends his time in his one-man online magazine, The Attic.

Cantigny Park is open daily in November and December from 9 a.m. to sunset. More information is online at Cantigny.org, including a full calendar of seasonal events.

Cantigny Park, part of the Chicago-based Robert R. McCormick Foundation, is the 500-acre Wheaton estate of Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955), long-time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. It is home to the McCormick House, First Division Museum, display gardens, picnic grounds, walking trails and a Visitors Center with retail shop, banquet, and dining facilities. More information, including hours, directions and upcoming events is online at Cantigny.org.

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