Artifact of the Month

Gilbert Microscope and Lab Set
Donated by Jannie Reeves Layne

Gilbert Microscope and Lab Set, 1960sIn 1969, junior high school student Jannie Reeves of Springdale received this lab set after she won third place in the junior chemistry division of the Arkansas State Science Fair held at the University of Arkansas.

Originally known as the Mysto Manufacturing Company, the A. C. Gilbert Company was known for educational toys that explored concepts of science and engineering.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson established the Council of National Defense to work with industries to conserve and coordinate resources. In 1918 the council suggested a ban on toy production as part of the war effort. Alfred Gilbert spoke to the council on behalf of toy producers. He pointed out that toys could be both fun and educational: the air rifle could improve accuracy and hand-eye coordination; the Erector Set (Gilbert's best-known toy) could teach engineering. Gilbert even brought toys for the council to try out, including a steam engine and a submarine. In the end, the council dropped the idea of banning toy production and Albert Gilbert became known as "The Man Who Saved Christmas."

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