A. C. Gilbert Company was an American toy company, once one of the largest toy companies in the world. Gilbert was founded in 1909 in Westville, Connecticut, by Alfred Carlton Gilbert, a magician. The company was originally established to provide supplies for magic shows.
Starting in 1922, A. C. Gilbert made chemistry sets in various sizes as well as similar sets for the budding scientist, adding investigations into radioactivity in the 1950s with a kit featuring a Geiger counter.
Sometimes it is fun to look back at the past and see just how much has changed. A clear example of this is the Gilbert Chemistry set one lady brings into the shop on Pawn Stars. While most of the chemicals were harmless, these sets did contain a few that you definitely wouldn’t see on shelves these days, including potassium permanganate —a poisonous and highly-flammable substance — and ammonium nitrate.
In fact, the manual had a recipe for gunpowder. That said, these chemistry sets were well-intended, with the goal of getting kids interested in science. As Rick points out, who knows what type of influence these toy sets had on the future of chemistry. Perhaps these kids went on to study chemical engineering.
Find out more about these vintage toys in the following clip. What do you think of the Gilbert chemistry set? I doubt many of us would let our kids play with one today. Check out the video below to see this antique chemistry set that kids could have genuinely killed themselves playing with.