There has been some talk elsewhere about A. C. Gilbert, Hudson Dobson, AVA and other Meccano agents in the U.S.
So here is what I have written some time ago about Meccano Inc. and Meccano's operations in The US in the Dinky Toys Encyclopaediaâ„¢.
Meccano is a metal construction toy, using perforated metal shapes, nuts and bolts to assemble all sorts of things. Erector is a similar system which is much better known in the United States. Meccano was patented by Frank Hornby in England in 1901, and spread through the world. It was exported to the States by 1909 by the Embossing Company of Albany N.Y. until 1912, and a US Meccano Company was formed in 1913. Erector was invented in the US by Albert Carlton Gilbert in 1912. Legal procedings in America over Meccano patents are instigated by Frank Hornby in 1917, and litigation is won, resulting in injunctions of similar toys. A factory to manufacture Meccano sets was established in Elisabeth, New Jersey in 1920 and operated until 1928. There was also an office in New-York which closed the same year due to the Depression.
The US Meccano Company owned by Joshua Lionel Cowan (of Lionel trains) was acquired by A.C. Gilbert in 1928. They made products bearing the Meccano name for sale only in the United States. The Meccano factory was closed in 1928, and production moved to the Erector factory in New-Haven Connecticut. Meccano sets continued in production for a few years, and the name was used on a number of other toys. Meccano construction sets were made in the US as late as 1938. Gilbert was also selling toys in England. In 1929, Henry Hudson Dobson becomes the importer for the Meccano products in the U.S.A.
Gilbert retired in 1954 and turned the business over to his son A. C. Junior. The company was struggling as the space race was on and the company was slow to bring out new products. Upon his death in 1961, the company was bought by the Jack Wrather Group. Erector was still a major product in the toy line, but the parts were changed and the company went bankrupt in 1967.
From 1929 and until 1959, the distribution of the Meccano products is done by Henry Hudson Dobson Inc, P.O. Box 255, Kenilworth N.J. H.Hudson Dobson was British, trade director of Meccano Ltd., he had been sent to the U.S. to increase the sales.
In the April 1973 issue of the Meccano Magazine AVA international publishes that it has been apointed sole agent for all Meccano Ltd. products in the U.S.A. This contract last until Meccano was wound up in November 1979.
The Erector portion of the business was sold to Gabriel Industries. Gabriel continued to sell Erector sets under the Gilbert name until 1976 when the name Gilbert disappers and the trade mark becomes "Gabriel Erector" . In 1978 the Gabriel Company was taken over by the Columbia Broadcasting Corporation and the sets are sold as "Gabriel CBS Toys".
By 1982 the Gabriel Division name was no longer used and the name on the boxes was "CBS Toys" with the Ideal logo. In 1984 CBS sold the Ideal Company and Erector to GAF View-Master. Copyrights were held under the name View-Master Ideal Group Inc.
In 1989, Meccano s.a. of Calais France bought the rights to the Erector trademark in the United States and started selling Meccano-Erector sets in the american market, they still do in 2014.
Photo and part of the text by courtesy of usmeccano.com and Bruce Hansen.
Erector set made in Calais by Meccano s.a.in 2010.
You are welcomed to send your comments, additions and corrections.