When, exactly, was the US Meccano Company purchased by A. C. Gilbert (owner of Erector)?
A. C. Gilbert bought the US Meccano Company in 1928 or 1929. Do you have any documentation on the date? One theory is that Joshua Lionel Cowan (of Lionel Trains) needed cash to purchase the Ives Company, and sold the Meccano Company to obtain the cash. Cowan was reputedly the owner of the US Meccano Company. The Ives Corporation was sold on July 31, 1928. Was the sale actually connected as described?
Some of the evidence: the pictures of the US Meccano factory in Elizabeth disappeared from the back covers of Meccano instructions by March of 1930, although it was shown on January editions (MUCH thanks to Jaques Pitrat for researching this angle, and credit also to Clive Weston for his help!). The US Meccano Company started making 0 gauge clockwork trains in 1927, and continued in 1928. The line was dropped in 1929 - perhaps when Gilbert bought the company? Lew Schneider has provided information on these trains - see also his article in Classic Toy Trains for May of 2000.
There is an ad in Playthings, a trade magazine, from January of 1929 implying significant changes in Meccano marketing, perhaps suggesting a new owner.
The outfit numbers in 1928 still followed the traditional 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. sequence, although an 'x' was appended to all outfits with electric motors, including 4x, 5x, and 6x. These larger outfits had had electric motors for some time, but in 1928, the 'x' was added, presumably so all motorized outfits had the 'x'. In 1929, however, outfit numbers were changed drastically, to 5, 10, 20, 30, etc. The first manuals for 1929 had a sticker pasted over the old "0 to 3x" with the new numbers "0 through 40".
I have begun to believe that the sale took place late in 1928, but I do not have much to justify this belief. Others are convinced that the sale was in 1929.