“Hoot-nanny” Traces Million Designs by Turn of Crank (Apr, 1933)

“Hoot-nanny” Traces Million Designs by Turn of Crank

OF SPECIAL interest to children is a new sensational toy which forms millions of symmetrical designs on paper disks. No particular skill is required in operation. A pencil is inserted in the position shown in the photo and a crank turned, whereupon the designs are traced with amazing accuracy. The designs can be colored with crayons that come with the toy.

Just why, we don’t know, but the toy has been given the unique name of “Hoot-nanny” by the manufacturers.

  1. jayessell says: May 28, 20084:43 am

    After Jethro left the firm it was renamed “SpiroGraph”

  2. Dirty Jake says: May 28, 20087:17 am

    Cool! My grandmother used to have one of those stashed in her toy closet for when the grandkids would come over.
    Same kind of squiggly lines as Spirograph, but it did it without all the geared disks. Definitely a different feel when using it.

  3. Blurgle says: May 28, 20083:53 pm

    She looks like she’s having the time of her life, doesn’t she?

  4. julie oakes says: June 1, 20081:42 pm

    I used to play with a Hoot Nanny just like the one above and made many different patterns to colour. I am 54 now and it was hidden away at my dads. The box only has a lid, but the inside is complete even my designs are still there!!! What simple fun we had for hours with that

  5. Elizabeth Benefiel says: September 5, 200911:02 am

    My sister and I were just emailing about this today. I have two versions we played with as children back in the ’50’s. One is the “Hoot Nanny” made by Northern Signal Company, Milwaukee, and the other is the “newer” version, “Magic Designer,” made by the same company, in Saukville. The instruction booklet lists the settings for model designs. With silver dollar-size gears that each had 8 settings, (S-Z) and (1-8) on the circumference and interior, and the two jointed arms with settings A-R, we made gorgeous, complex drawings. It was a favorite toy, especially when we were confined to quarters with measles or chickenpox or flu, and I distinctly remember trying hard to be as neat and patient as my older sisters were in building up a pattern incrementally. It was hard to cut out new circles when we ran out. Wouldn’t it be nice to get 100 new blank circles straight from the factory as advertised for 60 cents and 6 cents postage?

  6. Firebrand38 says: September 5, 200911:36 am

    jayessell: Not quite a spirograph http://4.bp.blogspot.co…

  7. Rhoda says: October 31, 20094:12 pm

    I searched this toy just for fun and, lo and behold, here it is. This toy gave me tremendous joy when I was a young girl, probably 60 years ago. How lovely to find other people who enjoyed it as much as I did. My grandchildren are all grown up and too old to make use of such a toy, but I wonder if it is still available in the same form as mine was. If it is, I’d purchase it in the blink of an eye and put it aside for my great-granddaughter and future great-grandchildren.

  8. jayessell says: October 31, 20095:32 pm

    Several on eBay!

  9. Firebrand38 says: October 31, 20095:39 pm

    Rhoda: Click on this http://cgi.ebay.com/194…

  10. MIchael Bevan Jones says: June 9, 201010:18 pm

    Well … let’s see if I can clear up some things. The Hoot Nanny was invented, and originally manufactured by Howard Bevan Jones at his company in Chicago. If you see a similarity between my name and his name, it’s because he was my grandfather. He manufactured it for many years. You will see his name and the name of his company on the original Hoot Nannys.

    To my knowledge, and the knowledge of my family, it was never called a “spirograph.” But if anyone has some documentation that contradicts this, I would love to see it.

    He sold the rights to the name and toy to Northern Signal, and it quickly became the more-marketable “Magic Designer” referred to above in Note 5 . So if you see one on ebay, and they are not uncommon, make sure you are buying the original.

    Just as a historical addition, Howard Bevan Jones also invented the original “Jones Plug” that was the industry standard in audio plugs for many many years. Upon his death, the company was purchased by Cinch Manufacturing, and the plugs became known as “Cinch-Jones Plugs. Also Howard’s father, Arthur Blaney Jones, was a Welsh immigrant who became the “chief of staff” to Marshall Field II. Arthur was on the founding Board of Directors of the Field Museum.

    That’s probably more than you wanted to know, but I could not resist.


  11. Firebrand38 says: June 10, 20106:14 am

    MIchael Bevan Jones: As pointed out in previous posts this was never called a Spirograph.

    That was a separate invention from the 60’s

    Jay was just being a smartass in that first post.

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