c.1922 A C Gilbert, Sam The Hobo Balancing String Toy

c.1922 A C Gilbert, Sam The Hobo Balancing String Toy

The A.C. Gilbert Co., well known for their Erector and scientific toys also produced some lesser known items including string balancing figures and clockwork vehicles. Most of these are unmarked and difficult to identify. Several years ago I found an original "Sam the Hobo" box (or I would never have known the correct name for this toy).

It's no coincidence that "Sam" closely resembles Charlie Chaplin. As you can see it's very colorful and well detailed. It's interesting to point out that the newspaper sticking out of his back pocket represents "the daily racing form".

Measuring over 8" wide and 7" high, not including the donut shaped weight, the toy is deceptively large. It has a one-piece, flat, double-sided torso and two side-by-side flat legs and arms. The bicycle, although narrow, is three dimensional. It's somewhat textured and was made from a heavier gauge material than the body. It has its original hanging metal rod suspending a cast iron painted black weight.

The toy scoots down an inclined string and is perfectly balanced. Gravity provides the power. The wheels and green pulley underneath the feet are grooved to accommodate the string which is also threaded through the hanging metal rod. This way it won't fall onto the ground if it comes off the string. It has multiple points of articulation including the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. This gives it very realistic movement.

14" height including weight

Date Sold: Nov. 2009

Price Sold: $ 174


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Subject: c.1922 A C Gilbert, Sam The Hobo Balancing String Toy

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