The Gilbert Project

For 50 years, Alfred Carlton Gilbert put his signature on toys for children. He built a world of learning tools that were unified by a distinct, personal vision. No toymaker's name in history is better known.

Gilbert, like Eli Whitney, was a pivotal figure in the history of hands-on education. From his factory complex in Hamden, Eli Whitney influenced training and education in the 19th century; at Erector Square in New Haven, Gilbert built the toys that defined it for the 20th century.

The Eli Whitney Museum collects and studies the products and legacy of A.C. Gilbert and his company. Between 1909 and 1964, the Gilbert Company was the premiere producer of learning toys in the world. Its showroom in New York, the Gilbert Hall of Science, was an emporium of experimental learning and a forerunner of the modern science museum. The Eli Whitney Museum’s workshops still nurture that experimental learning.

The Man

Gilbert inspired generations of engineers and inventors. Thousands collect his toys, his trains, and his memorabilia. But the number of his products and the diversity of collectors have not made it easy to tell his story. These sources may help.

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The Gilbert Catalog

Here's Your New Gilbert Catalog!

The Gilbert Catalog is now available.

Alfred Carlton Gilbert understood curiosity and the passion for building. He also understood selling. His annual catalogs are a history of inventive play... and of marketing. With the generous support and partnership of the Connecticut Humanities Council, the Eli Whitney Museum has collected, scanned, and posted an archive of the A.C. Gilbert Catalogs.

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Herb Pearce

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Chances are, anyone who lived long in the New Haven area in Herb’s century, has a Herb story to tell. This is one of those stories.

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