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Louis Marx, a leader of the 20th century toy industry, began working for toy manufacturer Ferdinand Strauss in 1912. Marx (1896–1982) established Louis Marx & Company in 1919, paying manufacturers to produce toys for him until he acquired manufacturing facilities in 1921. The early success of his toys was highlighted by the introduction of the yoyo in 1928. Marx designed and manufactured a wide variety of toys, and the company copied toys made by other manufacturers, improved them, and sold them at lower prices. Millions of durable Marx toys were sold through stores and mail order catalogs.

In the early 1930s, Marx acquired manufacturing plants at Erie and Girard, Pennsylvania, and Glen Dale, West Virginia, near Wheeling. In Glen Dale, he purchased the recently closed, quarter mile long Fokker Aircraft plant for the manufacture of heavy-gauge metal vehicles and large non-mechanical toys. In 1948–49, an addition was built for the production of plastic toys. The huge Glen Dale factory manufactured more toys than any other Marx plant, helping Marx become the largest toy maker in the world in the 1940s and 1950s.

Large toys produced at Glen Dale included dollhouses, trucks, service stations, airports, the popular Big Wheel tricycle and numerous other riding toys, and toy replicas of the White House and U.S. Capitol. The factory also made play sets with plastic miniature figures, including Johnny West, Fort Apache, Roy Rogers, Flintstones, knights, vikings, cowboys, Indians, soldiers, astronauts, the presidents, and the Sindy Doll.

Four unions were active at Glen Dale, and employment exceeded 2,000 in the early 1960s, but decline began after Louis Marx sold the company to the Quaker Oats Company in April 1972. Losing money, Quaker sold to Dunbee-Combex Ltd in April 1976. Glen Dale’s 800 workers were laid off in January 1980, and the renamed Dunbee-Combex-Marx soon filed for bankruptcy. The stock of toys was sold through auction to collectors and museums. The tools, trade names, and production rights for the toys manufactured at Glen Dale were sold to various companies.

Toys manufactured by Marx are now sought after by collectors. The Official Marx Toy Museum operated in Moundsville from 2001 to 2016; after closing, it distributed the toy artifacts to museums across the country.

This Article was written by Harold Malcolm Forbes

Last Revised on January 31, 2024


Pinsky, Maxine A. Greenberg's Guide to Marx Toys, 1923-1950. Sykesville, MD: Greenberg, 1988-1990.

Pinsky, Maxine A. Marx Toys: Robots, Space, Comic, Disney & TV Characters, with Values. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1996.

Smith, Michelle L. Marx Toys Sampler: A History & Price Guide. Iola, WI: Krause, 2000.

Cite This Article

Forbes, Harold Malcolm "Louis Marx & Company." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 31 January 2024. Web. 17 July 2024.


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