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Park City, UT—Silver Dollar Press, a division of Lucky Penny Publishing, has published the autobiography of A.C. Gilbert, a native of Salem, Oregon, as an eBook—a format targeted to a new generation of readers. The Man Who Lives in Paradise: The Autobiography of A. C. Gilbert tells the story of an individual best-known as the inventor of the Erector Set, the Gilbert Chemistry Set, and the maker of American Flyer toy trains.
A lifelong inventor, Gilbert acquired over 150 patents during his career—an accomplishment resulting in his recent induction into the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame in October 2015. Gilbert was also an adventurer and athlete, winning a 1908 Olympic Gold Medal in pole-vaulting and setting several world records in other sports. Most importantly, he changed the way toys—and boys—were made, influencing the development of several generations of young people.
His autobiography was originally published in print in 1954, but Lucky Penny Publishing acquired the eBook publishing rights in 2014 and chose it as the company’s first release under its new Silver Dollar Press division, which focuses on memoirs, autobiographies, and family histories.
As reviewer William Brown, director of the Eli Whitney Museum, wrote, “The Man Who Lives in Paradise is a complete history of the creative lives of the generations that thrived before television arrived as a thief of time and attention. Paradise is also an account of the power of playfulness, which is evident in Gilbert’s long reign as one of America’s great toy-making entrepreneurs. The love of adventure and experiment that animated Gilbert’s toys runs through every chapter of his life. Congratulations to Lucky Penny Publishing on the eBook, keeping his legacy and spirit of entrepreneurship alive.”
Melissa Marsted, the founder and publisher of Lucky Penny Publishing, also happens to be Gilbert’s great-granddaughter. “When my house burned to the ground, along with 220 other homes in the Santa Barbara Tea Fire, in November 2008,” she says, “I lost so many documents and pieces of my family’s history. Publishing my great-grandfather’s autobiography as an eBook helps me preserve his remarkable life and legacy for a whole new generation of readers. Following my great grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit was one of the factors motivating me to start my company.”
A.C. Gilbert died in 1961, robbing Marsted of the opportunity to know her great-grandfather. Nevertheless, “he inspired his daughter, my paternal grandmother, to start her own business—the Toy Barn in Hamden, Connecticut. When I was growing up we were allowed to pick out toys from her store. My father, too, helped to develop a company as an early partner. My great-grandfather’s legacy continues.”
Another Gilbert, David T., has been pleased to see his grandfather’s story make the transition to online publishing. “A.C. would be proud of his great granddaughter’s passion for keeping the Gilbert family legacy alive for future generations,” he wrote.
Joanna Engle, executive director of the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, which carries on the Gilbert legacy through their mission of inspiring children to learn through creative play, wrote in a review: “A.C. Gilbert championed the rights of children to play because he believed play is essential to learning. This book is an in-depth look at an inspiring man whose life reflected the American spirit of ingenuity.
Bruce Watson, Gilbert’s biographer and author of The Man Who Changed How Boys and Toys Were Made: The Life and Times of A. C. Gilbert, the Man Who Saved Christmas, wrote, “A.C. Gilbert made the first Erector Sets and those sets made generations of boys. Gilbert’s autobiography, The Man Who Lives in Paradise,” tells how he made his greatest invention—himself.”
Like all Lucky Penny Publishing titles, Silver Dollar Press eBooks are currently available for immediate download from the publisher’s website: Luckypennypress.com, under the under the Silver Dollar Press link, or on iTunes. Sales from the book will benefit the A. C. Gilbert Children’s Museum of Salem, Oregon; the Eli Whitney Museum in New Haven, Connecticut; and the A. C. Gilbert Heritage Society. For more information, visit Lucky Penny Publishing at LuckyPennyPress.com.
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