Analysis of Meccano Manuals
In 1907, following the registering of the 'MECCANO' trade mark 'Mechanics Made Easy' was renamed 'Meccano'. The 'MECCANO' trade mark (No. 296321) was filed on 14th September 1907 and published in the Trade Marks Journal on 23rd October 1907.
The first 'Meccano' manuals were probably issued in early 1908. For the first couple of years, the manuals also had the 'Mechanics Made Easy' name on them as well.
The 1908 manual cover was colourful with a unisex image of a boy and a girl. The following manuals were issued:-
Outfit 1, Outfit 2, Outfit 3 and a combined Outfits 4, 5 & 6.
In 1907/8 a Kindergarten was introduced. This was a special small elementary outfit aimed at young children. The manual also had special pages for copying drawings of Meccano parts. This outfit lasted until around 1910.
From 1909 (late 1908?) the manual cover changed to the well known version cover with a buff coloured panel at the top showing two boys facing a meccano model. Just one manual was issued to cover all outfits (presumably the multiple manuals of 1908 were found to be wasteful/costly). New manuals were issued yearly with additional models being included with each issue.
Note - Apart from minor changes in colour and model featured, this cover was retained until 1934 when the 'lettered' sets were introduced.
In 1911 an outfit 0 (called 'Meccano Royal' in 1911) was added to the Meccano range. This had its own manual. Again revised manuals with additional models were included each year until 1914. Many of the models were also in the main Meccano manual.
A supplementary manual (13S) was issued in late 1913 / early 1914 which contained many new models for outfits 1-4 which utilised the newly released parts - Coupling, Crank and Double Angle Bracket. The reason for issuing this supplementary manual is unclear although it is assumed that it was to be used for the new 1914 outfits in conjunction with the previous 1913 manual, until stocks of the later were used up. This being war-time, paper was probably in short supply (It would also save money and reduce wastage). Later on in 1914 a new No.14 manual was issued which contained all these additional models.
There are no known manuals published from Liverpool in 1915 - probably due to war-time conditions. However it is likely that there were reprints of the main 1914 manual
In early 1916, the remaining copies of the No.14 manual were modified (by having some pages cut out and new pages inserted) to go along with the new 14S Supplementary manual, which contained a lot of new models. These were intended as a stop-gap measure to go along with the new 1916 range of outfits, until the new No.16 manual was published.
Each year there was a steady increase in the number of models in the manuals - from 33 in 1908 to 81 in 1913. However with the advent of the 13S manual there was a big increase in the number of models in the 1914 manual, with the number of models increasing from 81 to 133. Most of the model pictures were engravings or similar and gave semi-photographic realism.
The numbering of the models in the manuals were arranged in outfit order, except for 13 and 14S Supplementary manuals. Click here for more details on the model changes during the era.
Apart from a number of 'Colonial' editions, there were very few separate overseas English language editions (except for the USA). Instead stick-in labels or stuck-in replacement pages etc. were used to personalise the manuals for the appropriate country.
Separate USA editions were published from 1909 with an American address on the front. In general they were identical to the Liverpool editions except for prices being in US currency.
Page last updated - 9 August 2013
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