Flyer at 50

Eli Whitney Museum

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Flyer at 50

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Remember! Christmas 1946: a Magician's Grand finale

1946: The world began to rebuild itself after the devastation and destruction of the second world war. At an age when other men might have begun looking to retirement, A.C. Gilbert set out to add to his immensely popular line of pre-war learning toys, a line of trains redesigned so completely that they bear only the name of the company he purchased in 1937: American Flyer.

Several motives drove American Flyer. It was Gilbert's gift of rebuilding for America's children all the sacrifices of the war years. A life long competitor, perhaps A.C. relished his role as a David to the Goliaths of the well established toy train world. Certainly, he brought to the task the passion for like realness that distinguished his Erector Construction Sets. Careful in his forecasts for the toy and appliance industries, Gilbert committed to the complex undertaking of the new line to secure the future of the company he would leave his co-workers and family.

Though its 20 years of production (1946-1966) now seem short, Flyer's inauguration marks a powerful epoch for the A.C. Gilbert Company, for New Haven, for youth in America.

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