American Toy Marble Museum

                                                                                           Lock 3 Park, Downtown Akron, Ohio

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    ABOVE: The Christensen Marbleworks (1903-1922) in Akron, Ohio is America’s oldest still standing toy factory.


      The M.F. Christensen & Son Company's Toy Marbles ~ Present Day Marbleworks  ~ Sign Petition Here


    National Historic Landmark Considerations for Application


    The company compound of The M.F. Christensen & Son Company (1903-1922) is the oldest still- standing toy company in the USA. It was “the first and original glass toy marble factory in America.” These marbles created an entire industry and are today the most popular toy in the world. The building stands in the birthplace of the modern toy industry. It was one of 32 local toy marble companies and one of over 150 local toy companies. The five buildings making up the compound are still in near original condition.


    The Company Compound of The M.F. Christensen & Son Company (1903-1922)

    Building No. 1. The glass factory of the M.F. Christensen & Son Company

    Building No. 2. The sorting, packaging and office for the marbleworks

    Building No. 3. Christensen’s 1st home built in 1886, later home of his daughter Jesse

    Building No. 4. Christensen brick home, built in 1910

    Building No. 5. Home Christensen built for his son Charles in 1910


    Martin Frederick Christensen

          Born: March 26, 1849, Copenhagen, Denmark / Died: October 10, 1915, Akron, Ohio

    Patented 1st practical steel ball bearing machine in 1899, USP No.632,335 and 632,335

    Discovered and patented the scientific principles of sphere-making

    Patented 1st machine to manufacture glass balls (tmarbles) in 1905, USP No. 802,495

    Acknowledged in court to have invented the modern glass marble machine, in use from

    1915 to the present – US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

    Founder, President and majority stockholder for The M.F. Christensen & Son Company, of Akron, Ohio (1903-1922)


    Christensen’s marbles were sold on six of the world’s seven continents and dominated the toy industry from the moment of their appearance in the market in 1903 until 1917 when they stopped manufacturing. His marbles put out of business all American glass marble shops and almost wiped out glass marble production in Germany. He later licensed his 1905 patent for glass marbles to the German’s thereby saving their 60 year old industry and they continued their production until 1936.

    The method of manufacturing glass marbles that Christensen invented in 1910 is still in use today. Outside of hand-made ‘art spheres’ Christensen’s invention is the only method used to make marbles, for play, for floral and decorative uses and for industrial purposes.


    The games of marbles were the most popular children’s game in the history of the USA for 300 years. While the games began a decline in the period between the 1960s and 1970s and are no longer widely popular in the USA today; glass toy marbles are the still most popular toy and game in the world. No toy comes close to the popularity of marbles in the world market.


    Akron, Ohio was the birthplace of the modern toy industry and children’s product market.

    The first mass-produced toy was made by Samuel C. Dyke in 1884 at his Akron Toy Company (later incorporated as The American Marble & Toy Manufacturing Company,) now the site of Lock 3 Park in Akron, Ohio.

    There were 32 toy marble companies located in the greater Akron area between 1884 and 1951.

    The mass-production of toys changed the lives of all children world-wide. The price of mass-produced toys dropped so low that for the first time in human history almost all children could afford a toy. For a penny, a child could buy a handful of Dyke’s American Agates marbles.

    These Akron area marble factories proved so successful, other Akronites looking for new uses for rubber witness the creation of the children’s product market and turned out the 1st mass-produced balloons, rubber balls, rubber dollies, rubber duckies and rubber baby buggy bumpers. Others made bicycles, tricycles, peddle cars, anything that used a rubber tire. A wide rang of other toys were made here too, from cast iron and tin toys to tops and children’s books. By 1929 there were over 120 toy companies in the greater Akron area.

    Local toy company owners helped form the Toy Manufacturers Association of America, served on their board of directors and were presidents of the organization for many years.

    Other local toy making inventions, like Mathew Lang’s injection molding of clay marbles in 1890s and Derrick Rempel’s blow molding from the 1940s, are still exceptionally valuable and widely used manufacturing techniques in the rubber and plastic industries world-wide.

    There are still major toy companies operating in the greater Akron area, like Little Tykes, Step Two, Maple City Rubber, National Latex, Eagle Rubber, Balloon Accessories, Inc, etc.



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