Louis Marx & Company (Toy Manufacturers)
Louis Marx & Company was an American toy manufacturer.
Brief history and description
The company was founded in 1919 by Louis and David Marx.
The company produced several different varieties of toys, including dolls, toy soldiers, dinosaurs, action figures and toy cars, as well as a selection of toy trains. When the company began, they had little to no manufacturing capabilities, but by 1922 they had produced enough successful toys to have created millions of dollars in profit.
Initially seeking to produce cheaper versions of toys already on the market, they eventually branched into creating their own designs, and managed the unlikely task of increasing their profits during the Great Depression.
During the 1950s, the company saw increased growth which continued into the 1960s, when they are estimated to have made around 20% of all toys sold in the United States, as well as exporting their products to many others.
The company was sold for $54 million in 1972, and in late 1975 the new owners, the Quaker Oats Company, closed all of Marx’s factories, citing financial problems. By 1978 the brand had been liquidated. Today, the rights to some Marx toys are owned by other companies, but their origin has been largely forgotten.
Guide for collectors
Despite not being well known by the population at large, original Marx toys are highly desirable to some collectors, and the older they are and the better the quality, the more they are coveted. Boxed items and those still in their original packaging are liable to fetch far higher prices at auction than well-worn items; similarly, Marx’s selection of toy trucks and cars are amongst the most affordable items of their range, often selling for under $30 at auction.
Notable auction sales
A few original Marx toys have sold for large sums of money, the most expensive being the Marx Popeye aeroplane toy, complete with its original box, and dated from 1935. The toy, in excellent condition, was auctioned at Morphy Auctions on 10th October 2009, and fetched $6,500.
At the same auction, a Marx Charlie McCarthy & Snerd toy car in its original box, and dated from 1939, sold for $5,000, and at the same auction and in the same price range, a Marx Blondie Jalopy toy (also in its original box) sold for $4,750.
The high prices seen here were not a fluke; Bertoia Auctions sold a Popeye flier, boxed and in a lithographed tin, for $4,000 on 29th April 2006, and on 24th September they sold a boxed Superman ‘rollover plane’ for $3,250.
The middling price range includes sales such as a Louis Marx and Company tractor and trailer set, sold for $150 from Randy Inman Auctions Inc. on 30th March 2007, and the company’s ‘Walking Pinocchio’ toy, sold for $250 from Bertoia Auctions on 8th November 2008.
At the lower end of the price scale, a toy wrecker truck by Louis Marx & Company sold for $10 on 25th November 2005 at Kruse International, and Harrison Auctions Inc. sold a Marx jeep toy for $18 on 3rd May 2008.
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