Fact Du Jour – September 20, 2019 – Radioactive Kids’ Toy…


This kids’ toy had real radioactive components! The Gilbert U-238 Energy Laboratory was not a hot seller, and was only on shelves in 1950 and 1951.

The set originally sold for $49.50 (equivalent to $520 in 2018) and contained the following:

  • Battery-powered Geiger–Müller counter
  • Electroscope
  • Spinthariscope
  • Wilson cloud chamber
  • Four glass jars containing uranium-bearing ore samples (autunite, torbernite, uraninite, and carnotite from the “Colorado plateau region”), serving as low-level radiation sources of:
    • Alpha particles (Pb-210 and Po-210)
    • Beta particles (Ru-106)
    • Gamma rays (possibly Zn-65)
  • “Nuclear spheres” for making a model of an alpha particle
  • Gilbert Atomic Energy Manual — a 60-page instruction book
  • Learn How Dagwood Split the Atom — comic book introduction to radioactivity
  • Prospecting for Uranium — a book
  • Three C batteries
  • 1951 Gilbert Toys catalog

Wait what…the batteries were included? That can’t possibly be true!

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