One part of this story begins in the 1980s, when Akron toymaker Michael Cohill met an 18-year-old archeology student named Brian Graham at a party. Michael told Brian that he had been digging up marbles at his toy workshop, which decades before had been a marble factory.
Naturally, Brian the archaeologist was intrigued. They made a date to continue excavating Michael’s factory, and then they expanded the search to dig through the catacombs in downtown Akron for hidden treasure. They succeeded in finding four little clay marbles. But when a parking deck downtown was removed years later, they found the ground littered with marbles and old penny toys. They also found the oldest penny toy in their now large collection, a small Santa figurine.
The other part of this story begins 100 hundred years earlier, in the 1880′s, when a man named Samuel Dyke started the production of penny toys in Akron. Before this time, toys were handmade and very expensive, a luxury afforded only by the rich. With Dyke’s mass production of toys, though, a new toy-buying demographic was created. Kids with a penny or two in their pocket now had something other than sweets to purchase. Samuel Dyke’s business boomed until he was making over a million marbles per day and shipping them around the country.