Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Greenberg Guides Anew
Although this blog deals a lot with tech issues – especially those involving the distribution of information over the Internet – I've always stated that the Internet was not the be all and end all.
I think most anyone who delves deeply into any topic would agree. You can only find on the Internet the information others have placed there -- explore too far and you hit a wall. I was again reminded of that when my wife returned home with an old Erector set she bought at an auction.
The box illustration (above, left) seemed to suggest the set was made in the 1930's but the pieces didn't look that old.
Fortunately, my father was visiting at the time. Dad happened to know quite a bit about the Erector set, as he had previously done some research on items in his collection. He pointed out that some of the larger pieces were unpainted – typical for later postwar, but not for 1930's sets. Once we started sorting the parts, he could even make an educated guess as to which parts (and how many) were missing.
eBay listings, there really wasn't much.
I repeatedly hear people say "I don't need to know that – I can just look it up online." Well, we were online and no, we couldn't. Dad's first-hand knowledge gave us the info to refine our search. But beyond confirming that it was made in 1949, and finding pictures of the set, we didn't discover much else.
Greenberg to the rescue. Although Dad isn't really a collector of Erector sets, at one time he had purchased "Greenberg's Guide to Erector Sets" to research the few in his possession.
As with the other Greenberg guides, this two-volume reference work is well-organized, well-written and well-edited. Facts had been carefully checked by A.C. Gilbert and Company historians and collectors, and remains, nine years after publication, one of the standard authorities for Erector sets.
Dad's first-hand knowledge gave me a good idea of what my wife had purchased. Thanks to the Greenberg Guide, I'll soon have a complete list of what originally came with my No. 4-1/2 set, which will help me figure out what's missing.
I've said it before. Not everything's online. A significant amount of information remains offline, locked away in reference works and other books. And some of it is bound up with the first-hand experiences of people you know – readily accessible just for the asking.