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October 8, 2015, Trumbull, CT – Milford-based actor and manufacturing advocate John Ratzenberger inducted six greater Bridgeport and greater New Haven manufacturing companies into the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame on Thursday, October 8th at the organization’s annual ceremony at the Trumbull Marriott. Ratzenberger founded the Hall of Fame with Black Rock residents Barbara and Carl Johnson in 2012. This was the second induction for the hall. Barbara Johnson is a retired executive from People’s Bank, a former Chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce of New Haven, and a former President of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.
Inducted from Bridgeport was Bridgeport Brass, Moore Tool and Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company/Singer. Inducted from New Haven was the A.C. Gilbert Company, Brewster & Co., and SARGENT Manufacturing Company. The Hall of Fame was created to celebrate the rich heritage of American manufacturing and raise funds for scholarships to give to deserving students who are pursuing a career in manufacturing and engineering. All proceeds from the induction ceremony went to the HCC Foundation to distribute in to students at HCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Center.
The inductees’ awards were hand and machine crafted by the manufacturing students at Platt Technical School in Milford. The awards were designed by David Tuttle, who runs the Platt Program. Each award reflected the company being inducted in three dimensions. For example, Singer’s award was a representation of a sewing machine and the AC Gilbert award used parts of an old Erector set.
Over 200 manufacturers, educators, local businesses that service manufacturing and descendants from the area’s manufacturing history gathered to view historical exhibits and celebrate manufacturing’s past while talking about current manufacturing’s trends and its future. A customized video that described each inducted manufacturer’s accomplishments played before each formal induction. (See video link for 2015 AMHOF Inductee A.C. Gilbert below.)
Bridgeport Brass was an innovative maker of alloys and metals and an early telecommunications company. Moore Tool created some of the most accurate milling tools in history. Wheeler & Wilson/Singer brought affordable sewing machines into millions of US homes. A.C. Gilbert was an innovative toy company that manufactured Erector Sets, science and chemistry kits and highly detailed scaled trains that were later sold under the Lionel brand. Brewster & Co. are considered the builders of the most beautiful auto bodies in history and are now owned by Rolls Royce. SARGENT created a pick-proof lock using an innovative multi-direction tumbler that changed home security fifty years ago.
“At the end of the day,” said Ratzenberger, “civilization depends on the people who can take a nut and bolt and put them together. And it also depends on the people that make that nut and bolt. And those people are manufacturers.”
Ratzenberger plans on continued expansion of the inductees of the hall in different areas of the state and then the country around what the steering committee of the hall calls “manufacturing pods.” A physical site will be determined in the greater Bridgeport area which will eventually house both the hall and manufacturing exhibits. The hall is modeled on the Rock and Roll and National Baseball halls of fame. Induction requirements are strict and determined by separate committees outside of the hall for transparency.
– Dan Wisneski, Communications Director, American Manufacturing Hall of Fame
Related Links from the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:
I just acquired 2 wood box sets with a pile of mixed Gilbert and Mecanno parts inside. The size is 8 1/4 X 21 1/2 X 3″ high. They are both painted red with corners in black. Plywood tops and dovetailed corners with no brass corner pcs. One has an Erector label on front with no inside labels or partitions. The other, has a Gilbert tool chest label on the right bottom front. Can you identify the year and size number of the Erector set box? Thanks so much. George (email@example.com).
I have a Gilbert (various products) service and price list manual for sale. Any idea what it should sell for? It is a red 3-ring binder with pages now separating. Lists, fans, hair dryers, HO train and American flyer info. 3 lbs of service manuals and price lists, all original. Pat Calcagno (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hi, glad I found you. I am 73 years old and have had Erector sets since 1950. I still have them all. I don’t find much interest in my children and grand children and am considering selling some or all of what I have. Now to my question. What is the best way to sell Erector sets? As sets or as parts? Any suggestions you have will be appreciated. To give you an Idea of approximately how much I have, there are 21 metal boxes ranging from 4 1/2 to 8 1/2. Literally hundreds of pounds of stuff. Thanks for your time. Mike (email@example.com).
Hello ACGHS. Would someone be able to give me a general appraisal on some Erector Sets I inherited? If so, I will need to send you 18 images in a 17MB ZIP file/folder via a file transfer service. Thanks. Seth Dean (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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