An atomic energy lab for around $1,600?
I wasn’t around in the era of “duck and cover,” but I studied it in school. Imagine the idea that simply ducking behind a desk and covering your head would save you from immediate incineration or slow, painful, radioactive death from a nuclear attack. Crazy, right? But things were different then, and the perils of radioactivity were still unknown, scientific “myth” had trumped scientific fact.
Today’s remarkable listing is a throwback to those happy-go-lucky days, when we were still learning about the dangers of atomic energy. In the 1950′s, who wouldn’t have wanted to own one of these Gilbert Atomic Energy Lab U-238:
The listing description has nothing but praise for this toy, noting that in A.C. Gilbert’s autobiography he said: “This set caused quite a sensation at the Toy Fair and received a great deal of publicity. The Atomic Energy Lab was one of the most thoroughly scientific toys we had ever produced!” While this might have been the case, it also caused quite a stir, and was pulled from shelves one year after its debut due to safety concerns – children swallowing bits of nuclear material.
But its rarity is what makes this toy set a interesting collectible. And this one seems to be in great condition. The listing notes:
“This items to be sold is one of the few remaining intact Atomic Energy Lab. This A.C. Gilbert U-238 set was stored in a dry place for many years. It looks as if the young lad opened the set in 1950, then uninterested never touch it and close the box.
It is nearly complete, in pristine, almost mint condition (there is a very small area on the corner of the case that is worn and the batteries metal holders have been a bit rusted over years). Among the set of original manual and other cardboard and booklets, there is a US Government Manual titled “Prospecting for Uranium”, published by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the United States Geological Survey in 1949.”
It does seem this item does come up quite frequently on eBay. For example, this RARE GILBERT U-238 ATOMIC ENERGY LAB SCIENCE KIT sold last month for just over $2,300! We have to wonder whether the owner of this previous science kit and the owner of this new science kit will reach a sort of nuclear detente, similar to the mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine that kept our country safe for so many years… (I’m kidding!)
I have to wonder what things we are doing these days that would seem as fantastical to my grandkids as the idea of “duck and cover” was to me. I am sure the amount of time we allow kids to spend in front of video games, smartphones, and computers will come back to bite us as a generation of easily distracted screenheads takes over the planet. Or maybe our refusal to deal with the effects of climate change…
Yes, if you could box that idea up, it would certainly make for a scary toy!