Meccano Manuals 1908 - 1981

1908-1916

Changes to the manuals during the era

In 1907, 'Mechanics Made Easy' was renamed 'Meccano', following the registering of the 'MECCANO' trade mark. The first 'Meccano' manuals were probably issued in early 1908. For the first couple of years (1908/9), the manuals also had the 'Mechanics Made Easy' name on them as well.

During this formative period of Meccano, there were signifiant changes every year, as new parts were added to the Meccano range and new or modified models were added to the manual. Consequently it is impossible to give comprehensive details of all the changes during this era. Instead, only details of the significant changes are noted below.

1 - Liverpool Manuals

Main Manual Covers

The first 'Meccano' manual front cover (1908) was colourful, with a unisex image of a boy and a girl. The manuals for outfits 1, 2 & 3 had a blue background and the one for outfits 4-6 had a greenish background.

The picture of another early manual front cover (1908/9 ?) is shown in volume 8 of the Hornby Companion Series (HCS). This has a plain red cover with only plain text and no pictures. This cover is unlike any other manual so far seen. It is suspected that it is probably an experimental interim cover between the 1908 and 1909 editions of the manual. This has not yet been examined.

From 1909 (late 1908?) the front cover changed to the well known manual cover with a buff coloured panel at the top showing two boys facing a meccano model. Up to 1912, this was a model of a windmill (manual model 19 from 1909-1910). From 1913 this changed to a Monoplane (model 48(76) in 1913(1914)).

Up to 1913, the manual covers were semi-shiny paper, with a faint blue tinge to the outside and white on the inside. In 1914 the cover changed to thin card with a matt finish.

The rear cover was blank apart from the printer's logo.

Note - Apart from minor changes such as colour and model featured, this front cover design was retained until 1934 when the 'lettered' sets were introduced.

General Comments on Changes to the Main and Supplementary Manuals

1909 - The first 1909 manual did not include models 21, 38, 39, 56, 57 & 62. These extra models were initially published in a supplementary manual. This supplementary manual was later included by being bound in to the rear of the main manual. Following this a further edition of the 1909 manual was published with the additional models fully incorporated into the manual in the correct order.

1911 - In 1911 the flanged plates (parts 52, 53 & 54) were introduced. Advantage was taken of these new parts to modify almost every model in the 1911 manuals. This, together with one or two other minor changes, resulted in only four models continuing unchanged from the 1910 to 1911 manuals.

1912 (early) - On the illustrations on the Separate Parts page, now shows parts up to part 56. However all the parts continue as the keyway type. This has been seen in an American edition and also in a French edition. It is thought that a similar Liverpool english edition should exist, but so far a copy has not been seen. Confirmation of its existance would be appreciated.

1912 (late) - On the illustrations on the Separate Parts page, the worm is now shown with a boss, but the rest remain as keyway parts. Apart from this this edition is adentical to the early 1912 edition.

1913 - The first 1913 manual had a blank page on page 100, with page 88 being "The Science of Mechanics Taught by Meccano". Later editions of the 1913 manual had a page titled "Meccano is More Than A Toy" inserted at page 88. The resulted in all following pages being moved up one page, so that page 100 was now used for the Meccano Price List.

The early 1913 manual also had an extra number on the bottom left of some pages, whereas the later 1913 manual had letters on the bottom left on some pages. It is thought that these numbers/letters were printers marks to identify the printed sheets before they were folded and cut to make the Manuals. The numbers/letters are noted below, In each pair below, the first is the extra number/letter and the second is the page on which it appears:-
The early manual numbers are - 1/1, 2/3, 3/11, 4/15, 5/19, 6/23, 7/27, 8/31, 9/35, 10/39, 11/43, 12/47.
The later manual letters are - B/3, C/11, D/19, E/27, F/35, G/43.

Two colonial editions have so far been identified. These Colonial edition are not described as such. However the manual price is 1/- instead of 9d and the prices of parts & outfits are around 50% more than the English edition. The front cover is also coloured differently - light blue and pink. instead of the usual buff and light blue. Also on the bottom left of page 1 there are the letters 'NZ' probably refering to New Zealand. Two editions have been found. The second one has had the priced pages at the rear removed and new pages stuck in with even higher prices. E.g. clockwork motor 1 increases from 7/6 to 9/6 and outfit 6 from 150/- to 160/-. Also the price list of spare parts in the second edition has had parts 62 & 63 added.

In 1913 bossed parts superseded the old keyway style parts and the Illustrations of parts on the Meccano Parts page were revised.. This resulted in the pictures of some of the models being touched up to show the new bosses. The parts required lists for each model were also amended to suit.

1914 - Up until 1913 (inclusive), part numbers were only noted on the price list of individual parts. In the set contents and parts required lists for individual models, only the part name was used. Also during this time, the parts required lists for individual models not only noted the parts required for each model, but would also list the additional parts required on top of those contained in the smaller outfits.

From 1914, probably due to the increased number of parts, the parts required lists for individual models only noted the part number and not its description.

An Australian outfit 1-6 manual has also been seen, This is the same as the UK manual apart from prices.

1916 - In early 1916, a hybrid manual was issued to go with the new 1916 outfits which used up old 1914 manuals. The cover was from the American No.14 manual (presumably there was a stock of unused American covers) These covers had a sticker over the bottom panel on the front cover, to replace the American address etc.. As the opposite side of the frontispiece which has patents on it is blank, these must be from a standard English 1914 manual (The American 1914 editions have 'Am' near the bottom left corner of this page). Pages 1-4 and 129-134 were removed from the manual and four unnumbered and undated pages (129-132) stuck in at the rear. These showed the 1916 version of the price list, spare parts list and outfit contents (virtually identical to that subsequently published in the No.16 manuals).

Three editions of the 1916 manual have been seen. An English one and two marked 'Colonial' on the front cover. Of the two Colonial editions - the stuck-in price list pages in one is marked 'Australasia' and in the other 'Colonial'. The prices in the Australasia edition are slightly higher than in the Colonial edition The stuck-in price list pages in the English edition show spare parts up to number 107 (same as the later No.16 manuals), whereas the Colonial and Australian editions only show parts up to 101. This is probably becase the revised Colonial/Australian price lists were printed earlier than the English price list, and extra parts had been introduced in the interim.

Supplementary manuals - Only one edition each has been seen so far of each of the 13 and 14S Supplementary manuals.

Outfit 0 (Meccano Royal) Manuals

As with the main manuals, new manuals were issued each year from 1911-1914. The 1911 manual (not yet examined) used blue ink on white paper. The 1912 & 1913 manuals were very similar to each other with a bright yellow panel with white border on the front covers. In 1914 the front cover changed to a format similar to that used in the main manuals.

Note - The following manuals have not yet been examined. If anyone can help with scans of the manuals, or even a loan of them, it would be greatly appreciated:-
1908 - Outfit 2, Outfit 3, Outfits 4-6
1908/9 - Main manual with plain red cover
1909 (early) - Outfits 1-6 (UK) (Last model 61)
1909 (late) - Outfits 1-6 (UK) (Last model 62)
1909 - Supplementary manual
1909 - Outfits 1-6 (USA)
1911 - Royal (UK)
1912 - Outfit 0 (UK), Outfit 0 (USA)
1912 - Outfit 1-6 (UK) with all keyway parts

Changes to the Lists of Meccano spare parts in the main manuals
  No. of spare parts Last part Number Separate Parts Pictures
1908 32 40 Keyway parts
1909 33 41 Keyway parts
1910 38 46 Keyway parts
Last part pictured - No.34
1911
(Also Royal outfit manual)
44 55 Keyway parts
Last part pictured - No.34
(Identical to 1910)
1912 (early)
(Does a UK edition exist?)
48 59 All Keyway parts
Last part pictured - No.54
1912
(Also Outfit 0 manual)
48 59 Worm has Boss
All others parts use keyway
Last part pictured - No.54
1913
(Also Outfit 0 manual)
57 61 All Bossed parts
Last part pictured - No.60
1913
(Second colonial edition)
57 63 All Bossed parts
Last part pictured - No.60
1914/5 61 65 All Bossed parts
Last part pictured - No.65
1916
Colonial
Australasia
69 101 All Bossed parts
Last part pictured - No.99
1916
English
75 107 All Bossed parts
Last part pictured - No.99
 
Details of the numbering of outfit models
  Outfit 1 Outfit 2 Outfit 3 Outfit 4 Outfit 5 Outfit 6 Total Models   Outfit 0
1908 1 - 8 13 - 20 30 - 36 40 - 43 50 - 53 60 - 61 33   --
1909
(Early)
1 - 10 13 - 20 30 - 37 40 - 44 50 - 55 60 - 61 39   --
1909
(Late)
1 - 10 13 - 21 30 - 39 40 - 44 50 - 57 60 - 62 45   --
1910 1 - 12 13 - 21 30 - 39 40 - 45 50 - 51
54 - 59
60 - 64 50   --
1911 1 - 17 25 - 32 41 - 49 60 - 65 71 - 77 81 - 86 53   1-14
1912 1 - 20 25 - 33 42 - 50 60 - 68 71 - 79 81 - 90 66   1-15
1913 1 - 27 35 - 48 55 - 63 70 - 82 86 - 93 100 - 109 81   1-18
1914-16 1 - 62 63 - 83 84 - 96 97 - 114 115 - 123 124 - 133 133   1-40

Note - Click here for details of the outfit models and changes during the era. It also shows the relationship between the models of this era and those of the following era.

2 - American Manuals

In general, apart from the front covers and the prices of outfits, parts etc. there was no difference between the Liverpool and American editions up to 1914. The American manuals (up to 1913 inclusive ) were also printed in England as they had the same printers mark on the rear cover as the Liverpool editions. The 1914 American Book 1 did not have the printers mark on the rear. However as Liverpool used surplus copies of this manual in 1916 for domestic and colonial editions, the manual was almost certainly printed in Liverpool as well. The 1915 American manual (refs 14.7, 15.1 & 15.3) have significant differences and were almost certainly printed on America - probably due to war conditions. The following is worthy of note:-

American Outfit Royal/0 Manual Differences

American Main Manual Differences

Supplementary Manual Differences