Sunday, July 25, 2021

Marx and Lumar: More Mystery

Lumar Contractors Logo found on toy trucks.
Having a husband that has collected a multitude of toy brands over the years, many of the brand names are things I'm familiar with ... at least I thought so.  Up until the last couple of years I basically looked at the toys and said "oh, that's cool", or "gee, that's kinda cute" and stuck them back on the shelf.

In the last few years though ... that's changed, quite a bit in fact. Now I study the shape, such as the cab styles, the box styles, the doors on the trailers, the underside, the tires/wheels, lights and grills ... and who knew all of this mattered?  I suppose an aficionado would, but that's not me. Not really.

A vintage metal contractor's dump truck from Louis Marx, with metal tires.
Marx Contractors truck with tires marked Lumar

I like to research, to find history, and stories about the companies or the toys themselves. He's the one more interested in rarity and value (but in truth, he's like all the boys ... he just likes cars and trucks).

So for me "Marx Toys" (generalized) isn't a name I'm not aware of because Marx made all kinds of toys, not just toys for boys. When I was a kid, the metal doll house we had was made by Marx, as well as some dolls, and at that point, I had no interest in train sets or boys toys.

Old metal toy made by Louis Marx toys.
Marx Contractors Truck with one piece Grill, Bumper and Lights

 BUT, like a lot of the toys the Toyman has picked up lately, Marx offers a bit of mystery. At least until I can spend a lot of time in the library (sans mask) without restrictions and look up the information I can't find online.  What is online doesn't really address the few toys we have that are emblazoned with a round sticker sporting "Made in Canada".

Marx or Louis Marx & Company was an American firm. They had 3 facilities throughout the US (Erie & Girard, both in Pennsylviania, and one in Glen Dale WV).  The oldest was in Erie, the others added later (Girard came from "Girard Model Works, and Glen Dale already made toy vehicles).

Marx Power Grader from a toy construction set.
Marx Construction "Power Grader", marked "Made In Canada"

 From what I could find, Marx also had plants overseas, so a lot of the toys were made in Japan, and Marx also had fingers in Mexico, England, Wales, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, France, and in Canada. That's about the only mention of Canada that I could find as it relates to the "Made in Canada" marked on some of the toys. So, whether they actually were "made" in Canada (Toronto, seems to be where Marx was located), without looking for the company in a Scott's directory (and there are many to look through), I can't figure out where (what plant) that facility was, other than Toronto.

One of the vintage contruction toys from Marx.
Made in Canada, Marx Toy

The most successful of their toy lines were apparently the trains, which something the Toyman isn't collecting (oh, he likes them for sure, you just need a space to do that), but there is a lot more information about the trains than the balance of their toy productions.

"Lumar Lines" was another name used by Marx for toy cars, trucks, and trains during the 1930s, in the United States and England. And it's "Lumar" that appears on the tires of the few Marx toys we have.  Interestingly, the wheels themselves are metal. On one vehicle, the tintype is in quite good condition, but on the other, it's more "gone" than there.

Marx toy stake truck bearing "Cunningham's Drug Store" logo, with Marx metal wheels.

  In the 1960s and 1970s several multinational firms began making toys in Canada (Louis Marx, Mattel, Tonka, Coleco), so Canada was a hub for many toy companies.

Marx stake truck with green cab and yellow box.

There is an interesting history for Louis Marx (like a bio), and while it provides possible origins for the American firm, their time in Canada isn't documented online, not anywhere I can find that provides details.

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