This week, the Lakeside Heritage Society is highlighting its newest addition to the "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit at Heritage Hall Museum: a vintage set of Tinkertoys.
The first set of wooden Tinkertoys was created just outside of Chicago in this early 1900s by inventor Charles Pajeau. After watching chidlren build with pencils and empty spools of thred, Pajeau developed his iconic construction pieces, utilizing a practical application of the Pythagoran Theorem for stabilization.
Pajeau then partnered with stockbroker Robert Petit to form The Toy Tinkers of Evanston and began building elaborate window displays in shops to attract customers. By the end of the first year of production, more than one million"Toy Construction Block" sets had been sold.
When Pajeau patented his invention in 1914, Tinkertoy construction pieces had already found a niche in the educational toy market. Each wooden spool had eight holes around the edges, drilled at 45 degree increments, with one hole in the middle.
Children built swings, towers and bridges by connecting the spools with simple wooden rods. Like other 20th century construction set, Tinkertoy tubes included instructions to inspire young architects. Designers chose the distinctive mailing package to save on shipping costs, but the memorable style remains after more than a century of distribution changes. Now Licensed by Hasbro, Tinkertoy continues to develop young builders and creative minds around the world.
Donated by LHS volunteer Gretchen S. Curtis, Heritage Hall Museum's Tinkertoy set contains all 95 parts in the toy's famous tube packaging. A Questor collection from the 1960s, it has the original directions for making everything from a Tinkertoy "Teeter Totter" to the more complicated "Whirly Tinker" or "Two Engine Airplane."
As one of the earliest forms of mass produced children's construction sets, it is not hard to imagine how many times young Lakesiders have used Tinkertoys for new dock, pavilion and cottage designs over the years. Visit Heritage Hall Museum to see the "Toys of Yesteryear" exhibit and share your memories with us.