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Author Topic: Gibbs: an American spinning top family  (Read 1356 times)

ta0

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Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« on: July 21, 2017, 11:13:41 PM »

A couple of months ago I got an email from Theo Gibbs, a young member of the Gibbs family that produced so many classic American tops.
He was interested in getting in contact with Professor Dan Lassanske to see if he could acquire the first tops that the company ever made in 1896 and he had seen on my video of his collection. I told him that I doubted very much that Dan would be willing to part with them (he had already said no to the Smithsonian Museum!) They did get in touch and had a very long phone conversation. Well, the other day I talked on the phone with Theo and he was extremely touched. He had just received a surprise package in the mail. I have made Theo a member of the forum and hopefully he will tell us the rest of the story and also what he knows about the family history in relation to tops.

Here is an ad of a popular Gibbs top from 1949:

« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 11:36:53 PM by ta0 »
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the Earl of Whirl

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2017, 02:05:09 PM »

Hmm.  Gibbs tops.  I think I have parts of the spring loaded piece that is on the top of that top.
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ta0

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2019, 12:44:27 PM »

Daniel's daughter donated the McKinley tops to the Gibbs toy museum in Ohio.

I looked up the Museum and found that it's the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio. In addition to the presidential stuff, there is a mini science museum, a planetarium and diverse exhibits. A Street of Shops exhibit started in 2001 reconstructs historic area businesses and industries such as the Gibbs Manufacturing Company.
Here is an interview with a curator of the museum, herself the daughter of James Conley, a Gibbs toy collector who donated much of his collection for this exhibit in 2009.
Quote
“In addition to the toys Conley donated, we also have the McKinley top in the McKinley exhibit, which the Gibbs family gave us,” she said. “That came in two or three years ago.”

Well, Theo Gibbs must have sent to the museum the McKinley top Lassanske sent him as a present. If now Lassanske's daughter gave the Hobart top to the museum, they are united again.



Gibbs Manufacturing started in 1884 and went bankrupt in 2002. It originally was in the market of producing plows. In 1896, the company added toys, specializing in lithographed paper-on-wood, metal, wagons, spinning tops, and advertising toys. The company’s first toy was a political spinning top for William McKinley to be given away as part of his campaign.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 12:58:25 PM by ta0 »
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Texture

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Metal "HUMMING TOP"
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2020, 09:00:24 PM »

Anyone know how rare these are? I found it in an ebay lot.

 
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ta0

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2020, 09:59:01 PM »

I merged your thread with this one, as I believe yours is a Gibbs top.

Here are Gibbs (at least the center and right) with spring tips that we discussed before:



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ta0

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Gibbs patents
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2020, 03:09:04 PM »

A patent for their iconic top by Elmer W. Gibbs, from Canton, Ohiio, March 19, 1907:



This is from 10 years after their first top, so there might be an earlier patent that I still need to find.

This is the patent for the spring tip, by Frederick W. Preyer, also from Canton, but assigned to Gibbs, from March 19, 1912:



Another Gibbs, but this time Arthur E. Gibbs, for the Merry-Whirl, April 2, 1912:





Finally, an improvement to the construction of the starter, by Preyer (still working for Gibbs), from November 3, 1914:



In the description it says:
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In the manufacture and sale of many millions of wooden twisting heads of this type, it has been found impossible to avoid a large percentage of wastage arising from undetected wind checks and a splitting from drying and warping, notwithstanding an exercise of the greatest care in the selection of the wood and in the curing process thereof. In addition to the wastage which is discovered and eliminated before the twisting heads leave he factory, the loss from this source has amounted to as much as 10% of the total number of twisting heads marketed, after the same have been placed in the hands of the customer.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 04:33:54 PM by ta0 »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2020, 06:08:24 PM »

Wonderful designs and drawings! Will be studying them in detail, as I foresee some LEGO knock-offs in my future.
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Texture

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2020, 08:53:49 PM »

Where did you find the patents?
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ta0

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2020, 11:45:12 PM »

Where did you find the patents?

All US patents are available at the US Patent Office website: www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/search-patents
You can do a full text search from the patents since 1976 and a very limited search for earlier patents since 1790.

It is generally easier to search and see the patents using Google's patent search: https://patents.google.com/ although sometimes I have to go back to the uspto.

I look up any patent that is printed on a top, search for patents referenced in newer patents, and I have browsed the patent classifications where tops should appear. Over the years I have been printing all the patents I've found, so nowadays my old patent searches mostly consist in manually going through the paper stack  :) All the patents above where there already.
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Texture

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2020, 09:04:22 PM »

Here's another patent. I've never seen this one before.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 12:31:08 AM by ta0 »
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Texture

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2020, 09:10:09 PM »

 Another one

« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 12:33:15 AM by ta0 »
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ta0

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2020, 09:41:04 AM »

Thanks for posting those, Texture.
The 1911 patent is for a metal sheet construction of the starter. Note that the original 1907 starter was made out of wood, but the 1914 starter is a wood starter with metal reinforcements. This might be a way of dating these tops. There was a re-issue of the 1911 patent in 1922, but I'm not sure why:



The 1926 patent is a design patent. I don't recall seeing a top with that type of starter.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 09:44:06 AM by ta0 »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2020, 11:54:30 AM »

Near as I can tell, all of these Gibbs patents show tops with (1) hollow metal clamshell rotors, often doubling as sound generators, (2) apparently built-in wind-up starters on their stems, and in some cases, (3) springs for tips.

What's patentable here? The starters? The acoustics?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 06:20:58 PM by Jeremy McCreary »
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Texture

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2020, 05:48:03 PM »

I have seen and own off brand gibbs style tops from japan, some identical except for paint and launcher.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 06:56:57 PM by ta0 »
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Jeremy McCreary

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Re: Gibbs: an American spinning top family
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2020, 06:22:53 PM »

I have seen and own off brand gibbs style tops from japan, some identical except for paint and launcher.

Ah, so the starters do detach. That makes a lot more sense. Nice tops!
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