What is a Deal Toy?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

A deal toy is an item used in business to commemorate a major deal involving one or more businesses, often reflecting a merger of two companies or the acquisition of one company by another. These items first came into prominence and popularity in the 1970s as a way for businesses to create a lasting commemoration of a major deal. They are typically made using Lucite and can take a number of different forms, shapes, and styles depending on the preferences and nature of the businesses involved. A deal toy can be quite popular for businesses that rely on mergers and similar deals to thrive, though during periods of economic hardship they can decline in popularity.

Also called a tombstone, a deal toy is usually ordered by a company and presented to employees to indicate a job well done and commemorate a major deal for the business. One of the most common types of deal toy is made from a rectangular Lucite block, often fairly thin and just large enough to fit on a desk without taking up too much space. This piece of Lucite typically stands vertically, with a base of some type at the bottom, and generally resembles the shape of a tombstone, giving these items their common nickname. Since these deal toys typically have no practical monetary value, they can be given to executives involved in mergers and similar deals without violating laws regarding gifts involved with a business deal.

The base of a deal toy can be marked with a small plaque or similar indicator of the recipient of the item. A message of some kind can be engraved into the surface of the deal toy itself, often lending the item an even greater resemblance to a tombstone. Since clear Lucite is typically used, an item can also be placed within the object itself to further customize the tombstone. For example, a deal toy that is presented to an employee to commemorate a major promotion might have a business card within it stating the person’s new position, while one for a merger may incorporate documents with the logos of each business in them.

A tombstone made to commemorate one company buying another could have currency within the tombstone to signify the profits that will come to both companies. Many of these deal toys were also made in shapes other than standard rectangles. A deal toy made to commemorate the merger of two banks could be made in the shape of a dollar sign, or the acquisition of a major food distributor could be marked by a tombstone shaped like a hamburger. While times of economic prosperity have seen thousands of these deal toys made and used each year, downturns in economy and a reduction of major business deals can lead to greatly reduced production of such items.

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