Thursday, November 3, 2016

Monochrome Meccano

Before there was colour, there was monochrome. Same with Meccano. Before 1926 or '27 the parts were not painted, but nickel-plated.

Clean and shiny, these date to around 1920 and would have come with this instruction book.

Localised in Dutch, also sold separately - quite expensive too at Hfl. 1,25. (An English-language version of the 1919 edition of this manual can be found here at the very extensive site of the New Zealand Meccano Club.)

The Meccano system was seriously protected by patents, both utility and design patents. Unlike English, Dutch has evolved quite a bit over the past decades and this manual really illustrates this. Its phrasing and spelling looks very quaint to modern eyes ('ye olde'). Notably odd spelling of Britain in the title page.

Before being published as a separate book of standard mechanisms, the instruction book included a section with some basic standard mechanisms. (Also some odd printing errors in the text; printed in England, a Dutch-speaking printer would have caught word-contractions and similar mistakes.)

The range of parts was already extensive (and about to expand a lot more during the twenties and thirties). Some parts were only available as separate spare-parts and not included in any outfit. The given prices again illustrate this was not cheap.

Despite the high price, or perhaps because of it, the reader is cautioned against considering buying anything that is not the genuine article. On the back cover of the booklet is explained that Meccano is more than a mere toy! It is true mechanical engineering in miniature. Any imitation is not following sound engineering principles and thus would be bad for the development of the child. (Oh dear.)

To be fair it actually was the technology of its day in miniature, arguably the Arduino of its time.

Still it is an enjoyable toy, still :-)

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