This page lists the boxes that the A.C. Gilbert company used for packaging American Flyer freight and passenger cars over the years. All photos are copyright Ted Hamler, and posted here with his permission.
Box number "B866" was copyrighted in 1940. The box was actually created to package the pre-war 3/16" O-gauge trains produced from 1939 through 1941. In 1946, when Gilbert introduced their new S-scale trains, they still had many pre-war boxes left over, and so they elected to use the 1940-copyright boxes. These featured the wording "TRU-MODEL" in the banner just above the American Flyer name. The entire 1946 inventory consumed these boxes, so only 1946 cars came in this box.
The "Type 1" box, according to Greenberg, was copyrighted in 1947. However, the copyright on the box in the photo is 1948 and the box number of B874. The Type 1 box has the word "GILBERT" above "AMERICAN FLYER TRAINS". According to Greenberg, a Type 1A has the word "GILBERT" in line with "AMERICAN FLYER TRAINS". The main difference between the Type 1 and 1A and the box shown above is the wording "3/16" SCALE" on the box. The Type 1 and 1A boxes were used from 1947, and showed up on occasion in sets as late as 1955 when the last of these boxes were consumed.
According to Greenberg, there are five different types of the yellow & blue boxes, listed as a Types 2, 2A, 3, 4, and 5. The major differences have to do with the copyright dates, the phrase on the side panel of each box, and the color of the AMERICAN FLYER lettering. Below is an example of a Type 2 box which has a copyright date printed on the end flap of 1947. The phrase of the side panel reads "another GILBERT HALL OF SCIENCE product". The AMERICAN FLYER lettering is white, outlined in blue.
The Type 2A box has a copyright date of 1947. The phrase of the side panel reads "another GILBERT HALL OF SCIENCE product". The "AMERICAN FLYER" lettering is yellow, outlined in blue.
The Type 3 box has a copyright date of 1947. The phrase of the side panel reads "DEVELOPED AT THE GILBERT HALL OF SCIENCE". The AMERICAN FLYER lettering is yellow, outlined in blue. This particular box is a passenger car box which was part of the chrome 1953 K5375W Chief Diesel Passenger Set.
The Type 4 box is identical to the Type 2, above, except it has a copyright on the end flap that reads 1950. The Type 5 box also is like the Type 2 box, except its copyright date is 1952.
Greenberg lists two types of red & white boxes as Type 1 and Type 2. The Type 1 box has a copyright date of 1955, and was primarily used in 1955 and 1956. However, they were still found being used until about 1960. The phrase on the side panel of this box reads "3/16" SCALE - REAL TWO RAIL TRACK".
Both Type 2 boxes shown below have the phrase "THE SCALE MODEL LINE" printed boldly on the front of each box. These boxes do not have any copyright date but were used from 1960 through 1964. The larger box was used for both knuckle coupler cars, as well as Pike-Master cars. The long narrow box was used primarily for Pike-Master cars such as the #24125 Bethlehem Gondola as marked on the end flap.
Greenberg calls these "Plain White or Tan Boxes", which were used from 1950 through 1964. The early tan boxes were heavy tan cardboard that housed operating cars such as the #716 Hopper, especially when they were included in sets. Through the years the boxes were constructed of lighter weight white or tan cardboard which very often housed cars that were part of uncataloged sets. The smaller tan box is marked "24126 GONDOLA" which is a 1961 Pike-Master car.
The most colorful of the car boxes used were the 1959/60 Frontiersman Box, which were created for the 1959 50th Anniversary celebration of American Flyer Trains. The box in the photo is slightly different than most Frontiersman boxes as it has a blue coupon attached to the side panel of #(247)30 car in 1959. As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration, one could remove the blue & white coupon and receive the #(247)30 car free with the purchase a #20550 set.
The next package introduced by Gilbert in 1960 was used until 1961. It is the Kleer Pack Carton. These consisted of a 2" x 3" clear plastic tube and black plastic end caps with white lettering that described the contents of the box. The clear plastic was cut to length depending of the content (hence the different sizes of the boxes in the photo). These were also used by Gilbert's HO-scale product line.
The last of the boxes in this article is the 1965/66 "ALL ABOARD" box. These used black plastic ties to secure the car in the box and the complete unit was shrink wrapped in a very thin poly bag.
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