This item is from a large collection of Meccano, and Meccano copies (including Ezy-Bilt, Buzz, Bral, Temsi and Jolei-Spiele). The collection covers a 60-year period from 1928 until 1988 and comprises over 20 Meccano models, 7 boxed sets, over 200 manuals and instruction books; as well as spare parts. The collection was put together by a retired Sydney mining engineer, Malcolm Booker, who made many of the models. As a child Malcolm was a keen Meccano builder but became both an avid Meccano collector and builder as an adult.
Meccano, the children's construction toy, was invented by Frank Hornby in England, in 1901. Meccano's famous perforated metal strips were inspired by full size metal girders which could be joined together and strengthened with cross bracing. Meccano gave children the components and technology to actually design and make their own machinery: working model cranes, tip wagons, cars, aeroplanes, swing bridges, machine tools and locomotives in miniature.
Throughout most of the twentieth century Meccano was exported around the world, especially to Commonwealth countries, and inspired a worldwide club intended not only to interest boys in engineering but also 'to make every boy's life brighter and happier' and 'to foster clean mindedness, truthfulness, ambition and initiative in boys'. There is no doubt that Meccano spawned a generation of technically-minded adults and engineers; it was also used in engineering firms for model building and by inventors for working out ideas, just as computers are used today (2013). By the 1960s rival plastic construction toys, which were cheaper and aimed at both boys and girls, took away much of the Meccano market and the firm closed its Binns Road factory in Liverpool in 1979. Nevertheless, Meccano continues to be made in various countries, and adult devotees still meet and display their models.
The importance of this collection is that it embodies the huge range and diversity of Meccano products, advertising, production and manufacture over 60 years even after it was no longer made in England. The fact that Meccano reached a world wide audience, before the advent of the internet and social media, is testimony to the value of the product, the company's advertising and Frank Hornby's extensive entrepreneurial skills and vision.
Curator, Transport & Toys
Information provided by Malcolm Booker, 2011.