Tinker Toys

Inspired by watching children play with pencils, sticks and empty spools of thread, Charles Pajeau and Robert Petit created Tinker Toys Construction Sets in 1914.

The cornerstone of the set is a wooden spool roughly two inches (5 cm) in diameter with holes drilled every 45 degrees around the perimeter and one through the center. Unlike the center, the perimeter holes do not go all the way through. With the differing-length sticks, the set was intended to be based on the Pythagorean progressive right triangle.

The sets were introduced to the public through displays in and around Chicago which included model Ferris wheels. Tinker Toys have been used to create surprisingly complex machines, including Danny Hillis's tic-tac-toe-playing computer (now in the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California) and a robot at Cornell University in 1998.

Originally sold for 60¢, they were first called the 'Thousand Wonder Builder.'

The distinctive 'mailing tube' package was selected to help reduce shipping costs. The back of the package included an address label with a space for postage.

By 1918, over 2.5 million sets were sold. Up until the 1960's, the company averaged sales of over 2.5 million sets per year.

Red spools were added in 1932. Red sticks were introduced in 1953. Green, blue and yellow sticks were added in 1955.

Other Toy Tinker products included the Tilly Tinker and Tip-Toe Tinker dolls, Flying Tinker propeller toy and the Dachshund Tinker pull toy.

Hasbro now owns the brand and currently produces both plastic and classic Tinker Toys wood sets and parts.

28 July 2020

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Tinker Toys value and price guide

What's your Tinker Toys worth? Here are some recently sold items.

Picture Title Date Price
tinker toy construction set hasbro toys wheels Tinker Toy Construction Set Hasbro Toys Wheels... 05/2021 $14.16
auto world pro tinker toys 1955 chevy bel air Auto World Pro Tinker Toys 1955 Chevy Bel Air... 05/2021 $90.00
wooden original tinker toys over 350 pieces Wooden Original Tinker Toys Over 350 Pieces... 05/2021 $66.00
tinker toys mixed colorful original container Tinker Toys Mixed Colorful Original Container... 05/2021 $6.50
original wooden tinker toys 108 pieces Original Wooden Tinker Toys 108 Pieces... 05/2021 $18.00
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices05/2021$-.--

Tinker Toys forum

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Comments (5)
Paul - March 21, 2021
I have a partial set in which the "spars" are about 1/2" square in section and the "hubs" are pierced sheet metal disks. I also have a falling apart instruction manual (c. 1923), so I know this is an official TinkerToy set.

Does anybody know anything about this set? I have searched the internet and have found nothing. I have written to the author of the book without reponse.
Marjorie - March 11, 2021
I have a Tinkertoy electric motor, FUL that was produced in the 30's and had to be discontinued in 1942 because of the war. The box is worn but in tact except for the lid. The motor looks perfect. I feel this is a museum piece. I would appreciate any feedback
Sounds like a great piece, but I can't help you with this.
Michael - March 7, 2021
Hello! I have a set that is “ALLNEW! BIG TINKERTOY CONSTRUCTION SET FOR LITTLE HANDS” Ages 1 1/2 to 5 No. 104 made by QUESTOR EDUCATION PRODUCTS COMPANY . BRONX, N. Y. 10472. MADE IN U.S.A.
IT HAS NATURAL COLORED WOODEN WHEELS, RED, BLUE, AND YELLOW STICKS, AND A FEWPLASTIC PIECES. Could you estimate the age and the current value?
Thank you!
Melissa - August 26, 2020
We have a set of vintage set of 90 #5300 Jumbo Tinker TOYS in the original box. The box shows wear. Any idea what this would be worth?
If I'm not mistaken, there is a set for sale right now, have a look: Tinker Toys 5300.
Loretta - February 1, 2020
If I have a 163 piece set of Senior Tinker Toys with red wheels but no colored sticks (plain wooden), could you estimate the year it was made?
Really difficult to put a year on this... As you might know, it could be 1930s, 1950s. Maybe try this page and see if you can find some info with the listings shown: Tinker Toys Senior.