Louis Marx produced tin litho toys from 1919-1978. At the age of sixteen (he was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1896) and as the oldest of three, he had to help support the family. On a friend’s recommendation, he was hired to work full-time at the Ferdinand J. Strauss Company, a toy manufacturer that produced items for Abraham & Strauss Department Stores and a pioneer in the tin toy industry. Marx's energy and enthusiasm helped him to become a manager by the time he was twenty. In 1919, after being fired by Strauss due to differences on production matters and a stint with the American Army during World War I, Louis decided that it was time to venture out on his own.
With his brother David he established the Louis Marx & Co. and set up office at 200 Fifth Avenue, in New York City.
These toys are one of the most popular among today's collectors.
In 1919, Marx toys had a falling out with Strauss. Deciding that it was time to venture out on his own, he established Louis Marx & Co., and set up office at 200 Fifth Avenue, in New York City. He started his company with virtually nothing; no money, machinery, products, patents, or customers, but what he lacked in resources, he more than made up for in seemingly endless energy and determination. Marx wasted no time and started contracting with manufacturers to produce toys that he designed.
His brother David decided to join him a couple of years later. Louis had the business, designing, and marketing skills and David was the man behind the operations. The two of them together would grow to be the world's largest toy manufacturer. A significant factor, which contributed to this success came from two policies set in place from the beginning, "Give the customer more toy for less money" and "Quality is not negotiable". By 1921, they were able to start independently producing toys from their own designs.Kooky Spooky tree:
Louis was not only a genius at designing, but also at marketing toys. By offering quality at the lowest price possible, his toys became very popular with buyers, and he had virtually no need for advertising. This popularity caused rapid growth and by the 1930's, despite the Great Depression, Marx built three new plants. The first and largest was in Erie, Pennsylvania, the second, which produced model trains, was in Girard, Pennsylvania, and the third, which produced model cars, was in Glendale, West Virginia. Marx also produced and distributed toys in England from 1937 to 1967. He continued to enjoy steady growth until the start of World War II, when the factories converted for the war effort.
After the war, the firm came back as the world's largest manufacturer of toys, producing mechanical toys, model trains, toy guns, cars, ride-ons, playsets and doll houses.
The Toy King
Marx Toys grew even stronger into the "Golden Era" of the 1950's. By 1955, the company produced over 20% of all the toys sold in the U.S., and had factories in ten different countries, including Japan, with divisions such as Linemar. Marx also distributed toys produced by manufacturers in Germany, including those from Distler. This may have been pushed upon by toy makers of war damaged countries needing a strong re-start and presence in the US. With sales totaling more than $30 million, and over 5000 different products they were easily the largest toy manufacturer in the world. Louis Marx's success story even made the cover of the December 12, 1955 issue of Time Magazine, where he was named "The Toy King". It was there he boasted about his annual advertising budget of $312.00, something he took pride in and rightfully so.
Marx's marketing strategies included mass production and mass marketing through chain stores, reproducing new toys from basic components and repackaging existing products using television or movie tie-ins. Up until 1959, he had resisted the use of a newfangled invention called television to promote his products. After reconsidering, he decided to go after the TV market in a big way. His plan was to reach 27 million kids with a massive television ad campaign of toy commercials over a three-month period, strategically placed during the summer holidays. Exposure to this blitz was estimated to exceed one billion. This exposure prompted Marx to create a company mascot, known to many as Magic Marxie. This campaign helped to make Marx even more of a household name.
The Marx Company was bought by Dunbee Cobex in 1967 and continued to produce toys under the name of Louis Marx & Company Ltd. until 1976. It was at this time, that 'Dunbee Cobex Marx', took over Quaker Oates USA and continued to produce toys until the beginning of 1980.
Unfortunately, on the 11th August 1992, Louis Marx & Company Ltd. dissolved, after several attempts to keep the company going...
Louis Marx died in 1982 at the age of 85, however his memory long remains in what he has left us.
Vikki - September 23, 2014
I have a tin goose that is a wind-up, walks and lays golden eggs. Can anyone tell me when it was manufactured and it's worth today?
Stuart Fuse - September 17, 2014
I have two 1930's/40's Marx trailers that are missing the front wheels trailer hitch part. Can anyone help me to find them?
-►reply: Also ask the repair shops I have listed on my 'link' page.
Eddie Bateson - July 1, 2012
I have obtained a number of antique tin cars from my Uncle and have no idea what they may be worth. Two of them are Marx racers (yellow, green wheels and a blue top) that I can't find on the Internet. Could someone help me to find my way or a value to them. They were made in 1920.
Helen Katz - April 19, 2012
I have a wind-up car, a checker cab driven by a girl, circa mid-1950s. It's a bit rusted, half the girl's head is gone- but it still works (somewhat sluggishly)!!! It rides in a straight line until reaching the end of the table, or any other obstacle...then turns by itself! Any info about this model? Can;t find a photo of it anywhere. How could I get it repaired? Thanks! Helen
►reply: Hi! Difficult to say, Marx made many cabs. You can try Google images to find your car and eBay Completed Auctions to see what it can fetch.
Alice Deck - May 15, 2011
We have a 6 wheel chain drive tractor with little farmer guy driving. He even has a polka-dotted kerchief in his pocket.It goes forward and back. We have replaced the rubber trackers. Nice red color with blue wheels...Would like to know appx worth? Thank you, Alice
►reply: I don't know Alice, maybe you'll find more luck on this website: toysofthepast.com
Helen Watts - May 6, 2011
Hi All,A friend of mine has a boxed Louis Marx - (smoking ) HO steam elactric train set ( Serial Num 6096, wheel arrangement is ( 464 with an 8 wheel tender ). We are not sure of its age or value and wondered if anyone could give us some information, Thank you regards Helen
Gary Wermuth - February 17, 2011
Some time ago, I purchased a flippo the dog toy. I have two questions. The first being, is there any reliable place where I can get the spring fixed. It seems that it just needs to be re-wound. I took the body off of the toy, not damaging anything, but I cannot get it re-wound. The second question regarding this toy is, I am not sure of the age. this is definitely a colored model of the toy, and not a black and white toy from the 40's. I am confused though, as I saw one that looks just like mine that said Line Mar toys. Mine definitely has the Marx logo. Any help that you could give me regarding these tow issues would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Gary
►reply: Line Mar and Marx are closely related, take a look at my Linemar toys page for more info on Line Mar. As for repair, there are companies specialized in fixing (old) tin toys, for example: Randys Toyshop.
Michael Dandy - December 26, 2010
I was wondering if anyone had any info on a trans-atlantic zeppelin wind-up toy that was produced by the mar company
Kim Godden - November 30, 2010
I have been clearing my uncles mums house and have come across a toy which is a large train which has the trade mark Marx toys made in england it is called the chief and has the number 86 on it does anyone know anymore about it?
Malcolm Perrin - November 23, 2010
I have written on the box a marx-a-copter it is a helicopter which rotates from a central pillar, it goes forwards backwards up.
►reply: The Marx-A-Copter was made in 1961-1962 and was similir to Mattel's VertiBird. There was also a Space version. It came with a record (33.3 RPM) with background sounds. Value depends on state.
Beverley - November 21, 2010
I have found a colourful face guitar with a short handle with a hat thats a bell. When you push him along his tongue goes in and out and his eyes blink. when was this made? And is he rare?
►reply: D. Dean stands for 'David Dean', the designer of the 'The Munchie Bunch' series, produced by Marx toys in the sixties. Yours could be the 'Bittie Banjo' or the 'Gabbie Guitar'.
Roy Batley - November 4, 2010
Hello, I have turned out my loft and come across a Louis Marx 'Match Play' Golf set. I don't know when it was made but I guess 70's by the flared trousers worn by those on the box illustration. It is complete in it's box and the green sponge driving range is as new. The game reference number is 3244 and if anyone does know when this was maufactured I would really like to know.
Charlotte Littlefield - September 13, 2010
I am the proud owner of an Amos and Andy tin car and I would like to find out more of the history of it. It belonged to my Uncle who died in 1955 and is the only thing I have of his.
►reply: Amos 'n Andy was a radio and TV show that dominated the ratings from 1928 through the 60's until it was sold by CBS in '66. The toy, made by Marx from the early days of the radio series, shows Amos and Andy riding in their open air taxi.
Ronald Dean - August 15, 2010
I had gone to a little corner store (mom and pop), with my grandfather, when I was eight years old. I saw this rocket ship called ROCKET RACER , I had to have it. Whatever it cost was a lot of money to spend on any toy. But a grandfathers love is special. Well I got it back to their house (in the country) and played with it for a little while until it was time for me to go back to the city. They would not alow me to take it with me. Instead my grandmother wrapped it in a dish towel and put in the corner of a drawer and would only take it out when I was there so I could play with it. I played with it before I went to Viet Nam and when I got back. My grandparents have passed away I am 63 years old, As I write this I am so looking at that little rocket racer setting on my desk at this moment (I LOVE THEM SO). Thank you.