The Duncan Family Yo-Yo Collection consists of papers, photographs, advertising materials, scrapbooks, clippings and audio-visual materials. These materials trace the rise and fall of the companies owned by the Duncan family as well as the world of yo-yo's. The materials date from 1929 to 2002, with the bulk of the material focused on the Donald F. Duncan, Inc., and the companies that would become Playmaxx, Inc.
The collection is arranged in seven series. Series one contains business material pertaining to Donald F. Duncan, Inc., and its spin off companies. Series two contains material about Donald F. Duncan, Inc. It contains business records, correspondence, photographs, advertising materials, contest materials, information about demonstrators, and sales. Series three describes the creation of Duncraft, Inc. and how it changed names to Duracraft, Inc., finally becoming Playmaxx, Inc. The series contains material on the creation of a small business, photographs, advertising materials, instructional materials, patents and correspondence. Series four contains newspaper clippings arranged by dates. Series five contains information on the competitors of Donald F. Duncan, Inc, and Playmaxx, Inc. as well as information on the Flambeau Corporation who had bought out the Duncan name and was continuing to sell yo-yos. Series six contains information on yo-yos in general. It has materials including articles, magazines, books, music, information on the Smothers Brothers, and miscellaneous material. Series seven contains audio-visual materials including commercials, videos, audio tape and
Collection is divided into eight series.
Series 1, Donald F. Duncan, Inc. Records, 1930-1985
Subseries 1, Minute books, 1930-1967
Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1930-1985
Subseries 3, Organizational Materials, 1959, 1962
Subseries 4, Conference Reports, 1962-1963
Subseries 5, Financial materials, 1959-1965
Subseries 6, Employee and Personnel Materials, 1962-1964
Subseries 3, Advertising and Promotional materials, 1982-1990
Subseries 4, Financial Materials, 1990-1995
Subseries 5, Employee and Personnel materials, 1990-1995
Subseries 6, Sales Materials, 1981-1997
Subseries 7, Patents, 1974-1997
Subseries 8, Production Materials, 1980-1992
Subseries 9, Newsletters and Releases, 1978, 1997
Subseries 10, Programs, 1981-1997
Subseries 11, Duracraft, 1977-1986
Subseries 12, Competitors, 1976-1997
Subseries 13, Miscellaneous, 1997
Series 3: Yo-Yo's, 1928-2002
Subseries 1, Newspaper clippings, 1929-1999
Subseries 2, Articles, 1952-1998
Subseries 3, Books, 1978-2000
Subseries 4, Instructional Materials, undated
Subseries 5, Magazine, 1958-2002
Subseries 6, Newsletters, 1988-1999
Subseries 7, Music, 1930-1964
Subseries 8, Competitors, 1958-1992
Subseries 9, Contests, 1997-2000
Subseries 10, Photographs, undated
Subseries 11, Miscellaneous, 1930-2002
Series 4, Other Toys, 1935-1991
Subseries 1, Toys, 1935-1991
Subseries 2, Photographs of Other Toys, undated
Subseries 3, Photographs of Tops, undated
Series 5, Audiovisual Materials, 1946-1996
Biographical / Historical:
Donald F. Duncan (1892-1971), a businessman who had successfully marketed parking meters and ice cream, began to sell yo-yos after seeing them on a visit to California. Duncan founded Donald F. Duncan, Inc. in 1930, running it with the help of family members and soon got the word yo-yo trademarked. Duncan marketed the yo-yo successfully by using traveling demonstrators, many who were Filipinos, to hold contests around the country to increase demand. Duncan claimed the yo-yo was once a primitive hunting weapon in the Philippines and whose name meant "come-come". Duncan also used the slogan, "If it isn't a Duncan, it isn't a Yo-Yo."
As the company became more successful a plant in Luck, WI was constructed to be near the maple used to produce the yo-yos. The management division remained in Chicago, where it shared some of the same staff as the Duncan Parking Meter Company. The company also began to branch out, trying to create new toys and products, including a line of tops and selling plastic yo-yos. In the early 1960s the company, now run by Donald F. Duncan, Jr., began an aggressive and expensive marketing campaign using television ads, creating a huge demand for yo-yos that the Luck plant could not keep up with.
By 1965 Donald F. Duncan, Inc. was in financial trouble. The company was unable to keep up with demand for yo-yos, losing out to other brands. They lost an expensive legal battle Royal Tops over trademark infringement. The court ruled that the word yo-yo was the generic word for the toy. In 1965 the company's creditors wanted their money and the company filed for bankruptcy. The company was auctioned off in 1966, with the Flambeau Corporation, owners of the plastic yo-yo molds, buying the Duncan name and continuing to produce Duncan Yo-Yos.
In the early 1970s, Donald F. Duncan Jr. wanted to return to the yo-yo business. He created and received a patent for a plastic yo-yo that was balanced to maximize spin time, allowing tricks to be performed better and longer. Duncan created a series of companies, Duncraft, Inc., in 1976, Duracraft, Inc., in 1977, and finally Playmaxx, Inc., in 1987, to market his new yo-yo. These companies, based in Arizona, were primarily run by Duncan and his wife Donna. They focused on school demonstrations and other programs to sell yo-yo's. The yo¬yo, known as the ProYo, has removable sides allowing it to be display any type of logo. In addition to Playmaxx, the Duncan's also ran a yo-yo museum, the Yozeum. By the end of the 1990s, Playmaxx was no longer in business and the Duncan's moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where they operated the Yozeum.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History:
Bob Rule Papers, circa 1950-2002 (AC0855)
The Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) holds related artifacts. See accession #2002.0246, #2004.0029, #2007.0158.
This collection was donated to the Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, by the Duncan family in March, 2002.
Collection is open for research but is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at email@example.com or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Guild Art Gallery records, circa 1933-1937. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution's Collections Care and Preservation Fund. Funding for the digitization of the collection was provided by Rosina Rubin.
Arlington Co. ; Electrochemicals Div. (or Dept.) ; Chlorine Products Div. ; Rubber Chemicals Div. ; R. & H. Chemicals Dept. ; Ceramic Products Div. ; Minerals Separation Div. ; Amonia Dept. ; Grasseli Chemicals Dept. ; Electroplating Div. ; Elastomers Div. ; Elastomer Chemicals Dept. ; Photo Products Dept. ; Defender Div. ; Du Pont Fibersilk Co.; Du Pont Film Mfg. Corp. ; Film Dept. - Sales Div., Industrial Sales Div., Building Materials Sales Div. ; Organic Chemicals Dept. (Div.) ; Fine Chemicals Div. ; Du Pont Viscoloid Co., Inc. ; Fabrikoid Div. ; Fabrics & Finishes Dept. ; Finishes Div. ; Organic Chemicals Dept. ; Dyestuffs Div. (Dept.) ; "Freon" Products Div. ; Semesan Section ; E. I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Co. ; DuPont Cellophane Co., Inc. ; "Cel-O-Seal" Div. ; Du Pont Co. PERMASEP Products, FASLOC sales, TYPAR Sales ; Du Pont Everdur Co. ; Patterson Screen Div. ; Acids and Heavy Chemicals Div. ; Petroleum Chemicals Div. ; Rayon Div. ; Industrial Products Div. ; Pigments Dept. ; Pyralin Dept. ; Agricultural Div. ; Plastics Dept. ; Polychemicals Dept. ; Biotechnology Systems Div. ; NEN Research Products ; Du Pont Radiopharmaceuticals ; Biomedical Products Dept. ; Explosives Dept. ; Agricultural Extension Section ; Military Sales Div. ; Qualicon ; Du Pont Style News Service (New York, NY) Search this
OVERSIZE. Metal degreasing with chlorinated solvents ; sodium hydride descaling process ; "Cadalyte" cadmium plating salts ; "Zin-O-Lyte" zinc plating salts ; peroxide bleaching systems ; molten salt baths for heat treatment and case hardening of steel ; "Perclene" and "Ovalclene" dry cleaning fluid / detergent ; formaldehyde fungicide, germicide, and deodorant for the farm and home ; "Neoprene" chloroprene rubber. Minerals separation process for cleaning coal and concentrating minerals ; polyvinyl alcohol ; methyl chloride, a refrigerant ; glassware decoration ; gold and silver plating with precious metal cyanides. "Propionates" mold and rope inhibitors for bread ; "Uramon" ammonia liquors ; copperized wood preserver ; japenese beetle repellent ; electrotinning, the sodium stannate-sodium acetate process ; "Cadalyte," the complete salt for cadmium plating ; electroplating. "Hytrel" polyester elastomer ; urethane foam ; "Hypalon" synthetic rubber ; elastomers. Mylar polyester film ; Kapton polyimide film ; Tedlar PVF film ; professional motion picture films ; Cronaflex ; Mylar ; Tedlar. Dyes ; aromatics ; synthetics for perfumes. Lucite, Pyralin, Arlton boudoir accessories. "Ventube" mine ventilation ; apron cloth. Sealants ; industrial fabrics ; "Corfam" poromeric material and reinforced substrate. "Duco" and "Dulux" color finishes ; paint for cars ; dyes for paper. Freon solvents ; "Semesan" seed disinfectants, turf fungicides ; road construction and maintenance ; cellophane ; merchandise packaging ; PERMASEP products ; FASLOC resin anchored bolt systems ; TYPAR textile material for the construction industry ; "EVERDUR" metal ; lactic acid in leather tanning ; rayon ; moisture analyzers ; photometric analyzers ; paint ; "Pyralin" toiletware ; plastics ; Lucite. Sorvall centrifuges ; protein biochemistry products ; NEN nucleotides ; molecular biology products ; chromotography products ; magnetic products (incl. videotape) ; "Corfam" poromeric material for shoemaking ; The Story of... Neoprene, Farm Chemicals, Safety, Duco Finishes, Cellophane, Research, "Coal, Air and Water" ; explosives for farmers, quarry blasting, blasting ditches, field clearing, seismic prospectors ; blasting accessories ; munitions ; blasting rivets ; trapshooting supplies ; etc. "Leonard A. Yerkes: Fibersilk to Fiber 'A'". Genetic fingerprinting ; pathogen detection. Mass Spectrometer ; Data System. "The Super Show/97 Official Show Directory and Sports Product Guide" (February 1997) ; "Du Pont Rayon Reaches New Peak in Fashion Fabrics" (Fall 1937) with fabric samples
Trade catalog, price lists, manual, samples and histories