What was old is new again. Tinkertoy building toys appeared in the second decade of the 20th century along with several other (now classic) construction sets designed to introduce children to the world of building and the mechanical arts. In the early 1900s, cities grew rapidly, and they needed skyscrapers, infrastructure, transportation systems, waterways, and many other engineering and architectural structures. And they had a pressing need for the engineers and architects to build them. The popularity of Tinkertoys (1914), Erector sets (1913), Lincoln Logs (1916) suggested that American parents were eager to guide their children (back then, boys, mostly) into the mechanical professions. One hundred years later, we find building toys like LEGO sets, GoldieBlox, and Roominate set designed to encourage kids to develop interests in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) professions.


  • Title: Motor:Tinkertoy Windup Motor
  • Creator: Toy Tinkers
  • Date Created: 1930s
  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Type: Construction Toys and Blocks
  • Medium: metal
  • Object ID: 114.5417
  • Credit Line: Gift of Anne Heuer Lewis

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