This is an A.C. Gilbert Mysto Magic Set. I acquired it from my Great Uncle who had it when he was young. He was born in 1919 so in 1930 he would have been about 11 years old. I believe it is from somewhere around that period.
A.C. Gilbert is best known for inventing and marketing the Erector Set. For that he is referred to as "The Man Who Saved Christmas". His company was called Gilbert Toys and they produced a few different things such as magic kits, science kits, etc.
According to "The Life and Times of A. C. Gilbert" (http://people.msoe.edu/~westr/gilbert.htm):
"...After two years at Pacific University, Gilbert transferred to Yale University to study medicine. To earn money for his tuition, he started performing as a magician, using the magic tricks his father had helped him learn as a child. The performances often earned Gilbert as much as $100 in a night. His friends became interested in Gilbert's magic tricks, but when he tried to teach them the tricks, he discovered that they weren't willing to spend the time practicing that was needed. At his friends' request, Gilbert began making boxed sets of magic tricks for them, with detailed instructions on how to perform the tricks. The magic sets proved popular enough for Gilbert to be able to sell them for $5 per set..."
"...Before graduating from Yale in 1909, Gilbert established his first company, Mysto Manufacturing Company, with his friend John Petrie. The new company, based in Westville, Connecticut, began manufacturing and marketing of the magic sets Gilbert had created. After graduating from Yale with a medical degree, Gilbert chose to focus on his new company rather than pursue his medical career..."
I'm not sure how complete it is. It looks like it has other items added to it. A few items have a red stain on them most likely from the red handkerchief which may have gotten wet.
Any additional information regarding this kit would be appreciated. I can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What you have is a #2007 Mysto Magic Exhibition set, circa 1929/30. It was one of the larger sets from that vintage, with most Mysto Magic sets coming in cardboard boxes. It sold originally for $7.50.
The A.C. Gilbert Company started out as the Mysto Manufacturing Company, just doing magic sets. (Gilbert was an amateur magician in college). After a few years of that, he also introduced Erector sets, and before long the tail wagged the dog, and Erector dominated the company. But Mysto Magic sets continued to be produced into the 1950s. The largest magic set didn't come along until about 1950; it came in a small suitcase.
From your pictures, it looks like your set is maybe 50% complete. Among other things, there should be several instruction books by A.C. Gilbert. The book you do have, didn't come with the set. There should also be set of "magic slates" for secret messages, a magic wand and a folded up poster advertising magic shows to be put on by the the set's owner. Probably other items as well.
- Jay Smith A.C. Gilbert Heritage Society Board Member
Click on any picture below to see a larger view