American Toy Marble Museum

                                                                                           Lock 3 Park, Downtown Akron, Ohio

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    ABOVE: Contestants lagging (deciding the order of play) at the 2005 Akron District Marbles Tournament.



    Marble Tournament History



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  • Records of marble tournaments in the Akron area date back to the post Civil War era, but large scale, organized, marbles tournaments didn't begin in the USA until the early 1920s.

    The Akron District Marbles Tournament dates back to 1923. It began as a newspaper promotion for the Scripps Howard newspaper syndicate, with the Akron Press being one of 40 Scripps Howard papers participating in the promotion. The finals, called The United States Marbles Shooting Championship Tournament, were held in Atlantic City that year.

    Samuel C. Dyke, father of the American toy marble industry and an old newspaper man himself, assisted in the start-up of the tournament and seemed to have as much fun as a spectator as the young champs competing in Atlantic City.








    ABOVE: Volunteer, Ula Wiedie (Samuel C. Dyke’s granddaughter) greeting contestants at the registration booth for the 1992 Akron District Marbles Tournament.

    In 1928, Akron’s Al Huey won the Akron District Marbles Tournament and then went on to win the title of National Marbles Champion. In the following year, 1929, one of Al's neighbors, Mike Batche, was the National Runner-up.

    Soon after World War II, the Veterans of Foreign Wars started the first truly nation-wide marbles tournament, called The National Marbles Tournament. In the 1950s, the Akron Marbles Champs went on to complete in these VFW tournaments. Then, in the mid 1970s, The Akron District Marbles Tournament died out. The specific causes for its passing have yet to be thoroughly researched, but most likely are no different from the causes for these tournaments disappearing from nearly all the cities (that once held large marble tournaments every Spring) in the USA. The only exception has been an alternative organization that also calls itself The National Marbles Tournament and that holds a finals in Wildwood, New Jersey. However, in 2003 this organization became a closed group, exclusively for children between the ages of 10 and 12, most of whom were from tiny, Appalachian communities.

    In 1991, The American Toy Marble Museum brought back the Akron District Marbles Tournament. For a while they sent a few of their champs to New Jersey's National Marbles Tournament and sponsored a few underprivileged champs from from Missouri and Tennessee to play there, too. Then, in 2003, the museum created The All-American Marbles Tournament, as a marbles tournament for all children. The museum is now actively recruiting local partners and opening branch museums throughout the United States to encourage marbles playing and tournaments. Of course, their champions can compete at a nation-wide finals in Akron, Ohio: on the very site where the first marbles were mass produced in the USA – Lock 3 Park, home of The American Toy Marble Museum.

    In 2005, the Akron District Marbles Tournament had roughly 5,000 children participating in its yearly marbles tournament programs. In other words, more children competed here than in all the other tournaments held in the United States this year, combined.



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