To start on an idiosyncratic note, I have chosen an Australian set from the early twentieth century. Whilst I have lots of European and north American sets, only three systems that I currently know of are Aussie. And this one is very proud of its origins. The introduction to the instruction manual begins as follows:
Dear Boys and Girls – In introducing “Arkitekt” to you, I wish as the Inventor and Patentee, to let you know that like yourselves, I am a young Australian, and I am therefore proud to offer you first of all this Superior Building Toy, which was not only invented by an Australian but is an Australian production from beginning to end. The wood was grown here, the toy was made here; the illustrations and printing in the book were also done here.
The set comprises variously sized and shaped wooden components with grooves down the centre of two, four or all six faces. Most of the parts have the same square cross-section (including the curved parts) and the groove runs parallel to the longest side of a face. The parts are held together by the insertion of thin square metal slips and the set includes tools to help with these – a pair of pliers and a kind of chisel, presumably for opening up grooves.
There are no panel type parts and as you can see, the manual shows models built as frameworks only, which I personally find rather unsatisfying in a building set. On the plus side, the introduction is honest enough to say upfront that you won’t be able to build the magnificent church shown on the box lid with a small set, which isn’t something you see acknowledged very often!
The set was made designed and sold by Leslie Herbst of Burke Road, Camberwell, Melbourne, Australia. The box has a provisional patent number on it of 3829, which I’m currently trying to find the date of.