Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How Marbles Changed Christmas

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

When we think about Christmas, one of the first things that come to mind is children opening up presents and being delighted by the newest toy. But in the past, toys weren’t always affordable for the average child. One toymaker from Akron, Ohio changed all of that.

In 1884, Samuel C. Dyke created the first mass produced inexpensive toy in the world, a clay marble. Marbles had been around for centuries, but they were expensive to make and buy because they were hand made one at a time. Dyke changed all of that with the Akron Marble and Toy Manufacturing  Company, and overnight, the company became the largest in the 19th century because children could now afford to buy toys. A penny would buy a handful of marbles.

Soon, he began producing miniature replicas of common household items for children to play with. The rubber companies in Akron took notice and began producing rubber balls, balloons, duckies, and rubber baby buggy bumpers. Soon other companies were producing cast iron toys, tin toys, bicycles, peddle toys, tops, and children’s books. A whole new industry had opened up, and now even poor children had toys to play with.

32 more toy marble companies opened in the greater Akron area between 1884 and 1951. Toys became such a profitable industry that by 1920 there were 120 toy companies in Akron alone. So on Christmas when your children are playing with their new toys, remember it all began with making mass produced marbles in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest.

Her novellas Resurrection of Hope and A Christmas Promise are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. I never really cared for marbles, but this was quite interesting.

  2. My father, born in 1915, kept a jar of marbles throughout his life. Now that I think about it, those were the only "toys" I remember either of my parents ever talking about. Loved this post ... and may just have to introduce the grandkids to a new game this Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. I remember playing with marbles as a child. I still have a sock full of them.

  3. I remember playing with marbles when I was a little girl. My friends and I didn't play games with the marbles. We just enjoyed looking at the various colors of those marbles. :-)

  4. I have a few cat's eye marbles nestled amongst some clear glass marbles in a pretty canning jar on my windowsill. I can't remember for sure where they came from, whether we just found them somewhere or they were from my mom's house or from when our kids were little, but I love the look of them. They're a conversation piece with my grandies, though, because they don't really play with marbles nowadays.