Deal Toys: The History, Symbolism, and Global Importance

September 4, 2023
Sand and golden glitter passing through the glass bulbs of an hourglass

What Are Deal Toys? What is the significance of deal tombstones in the corporate world?

In the bustling world of finance, significant achievements are often marked with an aura of gravity and celebration. Often complex and hard-won, such achievements are immortalized with mementos that carry a legacy of their own: deal toys.

Handshake and congratulating greetings, the businessmen celebration

What Exactly Are Deal Toys?

Deal toys, at their most basic, are custom-made trophies or awards. Crafted with precision, these mementos are bestowed upon the central figures in significant financial transactions. Yet, to confine them merely to the realm of “awards” would be an oversimplification. They’re not mere trinkets but symbols of financial prowess, hard work, and strategic acumen.

While sports trophies might celebrate physical agility and teamwork, deal toys salute intellectual rigour, negotiation skills, and visionary thinking. Each one is a testament to the tireless efforts that go behind multimillion or even multibillion-dollar deals.

Beyond the Surface: The Symbolism

Beyond their physical form, deal toys are laden with layers of symbolism. They capture the essence, challenges, and intricacies of the deal they commemorate. It’s not just about the numbers; it’s about the journey. Each deal toy narrates a story—of challenges surmounted, of late-night negotiations, of strategy adjustments, and finally, of victory.

For instance, a deal toy commemorating a merger might be designed to showcase the union of two companies, their intertwined futures, and the promise of shared success. On the other hand, a deal gift for an IPO might highlight the company’s journey from inception to its public debut, symbolizing growth, public trust, and a new chapter.

Functionality and Emotional Resonance of Financial Tombstones

Deal toys serve multiple functions. They act as:


They are tangible tokens that participants can display, eliciting memories of a particular transaction.


They provide a form of acknowledgment to the individuals who played pivotal roles in the transaction, celebrating their dedication and expertise.


For those in the world of finance, these awards can serve as motivation. They are reminders of past successes and the potential for future accomplishments.

Brand Affirmation:

For companies, deal toys can act as tools that affirm their brand’s prowess in the financial domain. Displayed in offices, they silently speak of the firm’s track record and capabilities.

The Legacy of the Deal Toy

It’s important to note that deal toys are not transient. These custom tombstones aren’t mere souvenirs of a fleeting moment but lasting symbols of achievements that often shape industries and influence markets. They’re a testament to collaboration, strategic planning, and the relentless pursuit of goals.

To the uninitiated, a deal toy might seem like a simple, ornate piece. But for those in the know, it’s a chapter from a story, a trophy of resilience, and a marker of financial acumen. It’s not just a toy; it’s a tale of triumph.

Deal toys history, from where do they originate? What is the evolution of their design and purpose over the years?

We made a small compilation on the evolution of Deal Toys since the 1970s for you:

close up of a watch

The 1970s: Birth of the Lucite Tombstone

The early 1970s:

Before this decade, significant financial transactions were marked with paper-based tombstone advertisements in newspapers. But as these deals grew more complex and the corporate world more competitive, there arose a need for a tangible memento.

Mid to Late 1970s:

The Lucite tombstone emerged as a popular choice. Lucite, a form of acrylic, was durable and versatile. The ability to suspend objects or documents inside the Lucite made these early deal toys perfect time capsules of the deal they celebrated.

The 1980s: Rise in Popularity and Complexity

Early 1980s:

The popularity of deal toys soared. Investment banks and financial institutions started standardizing the practice of gifting these mementos after successful deals.

Late 1980s:

The designs grew more intricate, reflecting not just the deal’s details but also incorporating elements of the involved companies’ industries, cultures, or logos.

The 1990s: Customization and Global Spread

Early 1990s:

With globalization taking center stage, cross-border deals became more frequent. Deal toys started to incorporate elements from different cultures, highlighting the international nature of many transactions.

Late 1990s:

The tech boom saw the introduction of more modern designs and materials. Customization became a key aspect, with each deal toy telling a unique story.

2000s: The Digital Influence

Early 2000s:

The dot-com bubble and the increasing influence of technology firms meant deal toys started reflecting the digital age. Elements like miniature computers, tech logos, or even embedded microchips became more common.

Late 2000s:

The 2008 financial crisis brought about a temporary decline in extravagant deal toys as banks and firms faced financial challenges. However, the tradition persisted, and while they might have become more modest, the significance of these mementos remained.

2010s: Eco-Friendly and High-Tech Adaptations

Early 2010s:

With a growing emphasis on sustainability, eco-friendly materials started gaining traction. Deal toys made from recycled materials or sustainable wood started to appear.

Mid to Late 2010s:

The rise of 3D printing technology offered new opportunities. Customization reached new heights, with intricate and personalized designs becoming possible. Moreover, embedded tech components, like LED lights or QR codes linking to digital memorials of the deal, became more prevalent.

2020s: A New Age of Deal Toys in a Decade of Disruption

Early 2020s:

Virtual Integration:

With the world grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work becoming the norm, virtual elements in deal toys gain prominence. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) components, which can offer an immersive experience of a deal’s history or the involved entities, start making their way into these mementos.

Emphasis on Sustainability:

As the world becomes more eco-conscious, the demand for sustainable materials and ethical production processes rises. Recycled materials, bioplastics, and other eco-friendly alternatives become popular choices.

Cultural Representation:

With an increasing focus on diversity and inclusion, deal toys begin to reflect a broader array of cultural and societal values. Designs incorporate elements that celebrate gender equality, racial and ethnic diversity, and other social justice causes.

From their humble beginnings in the 1970s as Lucite blocks to the technologically advanced and customized mementos of the 2010s, deal toys have evolved alongside the corporate world, reflecting the changing times, values, and milestones of the financial industry. As for the 2020s, they look like a promise to be a decade of rapid change and adaptation. What materials are commonly used in deal toys? What do these materials symbolize in the context of business deals?

Deal toys, while serving as markers of financial achievements, are also works of art in their own right. The materials used in their creation are not just arbitrary choices; they often bear symbolic significance, capturing the essence of a deal, its industry, or the values of the involved entities.

What materials are commonly used in deal toys? What do these materials symbolize in the context of business deals?

The choice of material for a deal toy is never arbitrary. Like our deal toys gallery shows, they are predominantly crafted from crystal, acrylic, and metals, these materials often carry deeply symbolic meanings. Crystal, with its pristine clarity, denotes vision, transparency, and foresight—a nod to the strategic vision behind a transaction. Metals, like gold or silver, signify the robustness, longevity, and premium nature of a deal. Acrylic, being moldable, often represents adaptability and modernity, traits essential in today’s ever-evolving business landscape. Learn more about each of these materials and more below:

lots of various cubes made of different materials

Weatherford Acrylic Financial Tombstone

Lucite Custom Deal Toys

Often considered the classic choice for deal toys, Lucite (a form of acrylic plastic) is known for its durability, versatility, and clarity. It can be molded into intricate shapes, embedded with other objects, or etched with detailed graphics. Its transparent nature embodies the ideals of transparency and clarity in business dealings. Lucite deal toys often serve as time capsules, preserving mementos of the transaction, such as miniature replicas, coins, or even paper snippets, suspended in the clear acrylic.

Sorrento Therapeutics Inc Deal Toy

Crystal Tombstones

Symbolizing purity, precision, and luxury, a crystal deal gift is often reserved for high-profile deals or landmark achievements. Its refractive qualities capture and play with light, adding a touch of elegance and gravitas to the memento. When a deal is perceived as a crowning jewel in a company’s achievements, crystal serves as an apt representation.

United - Metal Financial Tombstone

Metal Financial Tombstones

Metals, including bronze, silver, or gold, are sturdy and timeless. They can be used for plaques, stand-alone sculptures, or as elements in combination with other materials. Metal deal toys often symbolize strength, resilience, and longevity. For instance, in deals related to the industrial sector, metals can reflect the robustness of the machinery and infrastructure integral to the industry.

Wood Deal Tombstones

Representing growth, sustainability, and organic success, wood is a material that connects the achievements of today with the roots of the past. Often used in deals related to agriculture, real estate, or eco-friendly initiatives, wood deal gifts often signify a commitment to environmental consciousness and sustainable growth.

Stone and Marble Deal Toys

Stones are often used in high-end deal toys and symbolize permanence, luxury, and a solid foundation. Especially apt for real estate or monumental deals, stone and marble are also indicative of the age-old adage in business: to build success, you must have a rock-solid foundation.

3D Printed Deal Gifts

Emblematic of innovation, adaptability, and cutting-edge, 3D printed deal toys are becoming increasingly popular in an age dominated by technology and customization. 3D printing allows for intricate designs that are tailored to the minutest details, providing a tangible representation of the dynamic nature of the deal or the industry it represents.

Especially apt for sectors that thrive on innovation, like tech startups or biotech companies, 3D-printed deal toys can capture everything from detailed company logos to scaled-down replicas of products or structures. Furthermore, this choice of material underscores a forward-thinking approach, highlighting a company’s commitment to embracing modern solutions and thinking outside the traditional box.

Why are deal toys often referred to as financial tombstones? What is the significance of the term "tombstone" in this context?

The term “financial tombstone” might evoke images of gravestones or finality, but in the realm of corporate finance, its connotations are entirely different. While deal toys and financial tombstones are often used interchangeably, understanding the origin of the latter sheds light on a fascinating slice of financial history.

The Print Era: Announcements of Achievements

Historically, before the digital revolution took the world by storm, major business transactions, like mergers, acquisitions, or public offerings, were announced in newspapers and print publications. These announcements were typically formatted as simple, stark advertisements, presenting just the facts of the deal. The primary purpose was to formally and publicly acknowledge the involved parties and their respective roles.

Resembling an actual tombstone in its rectangular, block-like appearance, these printed notices earned the moniker “tombstones.” Much like gravestones serve to commemorate a life lived, these financial tombstones serve to immortalize significant business milestones and the efforts of everyone involved.

Evolution: From Print to Physical

As the tradition of recognizing and celebrating corporate achievements evolved, the world of finance sought more tangible ways to honour these moments. This led to the creation of physical mementos or tokens. While they started as modest plaques or lucite blocks, over time, they evolved into intricate designs, capturing the essence of the deal and the industries involved.

These mementos, though different in appearance and make from their print predecessors, inherited the term “tombstone.” Today, whether in the form of an elaborate sculpture or a simple block, they stand as testaments to the perseverance, strategy, and collaboration behind major financial milestones.

Symbolic Significance

In today’s dynamic corporate landscape, while the print announcements have largely been overshadowed by digital platforms and press releases, the significance of the “tombstone” endures. These physical tokens serve not just as souvenirs of success but as lasting reminders of the journey, challenges, and teamwork that went into forging landmark deals.

How are deal toys perceived in different cultures? Are there variations in design and material based on geographic locations?

Around the globe, the tradition of gifting deal toys remains universal, but their design and symbolism bear regional imprints.

Globe with measure tape on it

North America

The evolution of deal toys has been closely tied to the region’s economic and cultural history. From Wall Street in New York to Bay Street in Toronto, deal toys often embody the spirit of American and Canadian entrepreneurship.

Historically, American financial institutions and corporations have been at the forefront of global business. This prominence is often reflected in the deal toys, which might feature icons like the Charging Bull, symbolic of market optimism, or elements reminiscent of Wall Street’s historic architecture. Additionally, with North America being a melting pot of cultures, it’s not uncommon to see deal toys that merge diverse design elements, reflective of multinational deals.

Canadian deal toys, on the other hand, might incorporate national symbols like the maple leaf or showcase elements representative of Canada’s resource-rich industries, such as mining or timber. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, another iconic Canadian symbol, may also be featured to signify the brilliance or uniqueness of a deal.

Furthermore, with the tech boom centred in places like Silicon Valley, deal toys have evolved to feature digital and technological elements. Think miniature replicas of innovative products or designs that incorporate dynamic, futuristic aesthetics.

In both the U.S. and Canada, there’s also a trend of sustainability in deal toys, reflecting the growing emphasis on environmental consciousness in business. This can be seen in the use of recycled materials or designs that highlight green initiatives.

Through these designs, North America paints a portrait of its rich economic landscape, echoing tales of Wall Street triumphs, Silicon Valley innovations, and Canadian natural bounty.


The vast and diverse continent boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, histories, and economic powerhouses. This colourful mosaic is vividly reflected in the design and essence of deal toys originating from the region, intertwining deep-rooted traditions with contemporary business motifs.


Rising Dragons of the East: China’s Economic Might

In China, a nation that’s been synonymous with rapid economic growth and age-old traditions, deal toys often incorporate symbols of prosperity and strength. The dragon, a revered mythical creature, might be prominently featured, representing power, good fortune, and control over water, rainfall, and floods. Furthermore, elements like the Great Wall could signify solidity and endurance, while modern skyscrapers of cities like Shanghai symbolize China’s meteoric rise in the global economic arena.


Japan: A Harmonious Blend of Past and Future

Japan, the land of the rising sun, expertly marries its rich history with cutting-edge technology. Deal toys here might be inspired by ancient symbols like the cherry blossom (sakura), which signifies the transient nature of life, or Mt. Fuji, representing strength and stability. On the other hand, depictions of bullet trains or electronics mirror Japan’s technological advancements and its leadership in global innovation.


India: Diversity in Unity

In India, where diverse cultures, languages, and economies coexist, deal toys reflect this myriad spectrum. Elephants, symbols of wisdom and power, or the lotus flower, representing purity and enlightenment, are common motifs. The rapidly evolving skyline of cities like Mumbai or Bangalore, hubs for finance and IT respectively, can also be encapsulated, representing India’s stride in global commerce.


Southeast Asia: An Economic Archipelago

Southeast Asian nations, with their unique blend of cultures, economies, and natural beauty, bring a distinct flavour to deal toys. From the Merlion of Singapore, symbolic of the city-state’s humble origins and current prosperity, to the intricacies of Balinese art from Indonesia, these designs narrate tales of economic growth, rich resources, and cultural pride.


The Confluence of Tradition and Modernity

Asia, being at the forefront of technological advancements and digital transformations, also sees deal toys that highlight this modernity. From the tech hubs of Bengaluru to the bustling streets of Seoul, elements like microchips, smartphones, and even unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) find their way into these mementos. Yet, in perfect harmony, these modern motifs often sit alongside symbols of ancient wisdom and heritage, encapsulating Asia’s unique ability to honour its past while envisioning a futuristic trajectory.


With its intricate blend of ancient histories and modern advancements, Europe offers a unique canvas for the design and symbolism of deal toys. Spanning from the British Isles to the continental expanse, the nuances in these tokens of achievement echo tales of European commerce, art, and culture.


London’s Financial Districts and Beyond

In the heart of London, the historic squares of the financial districts have witnessed countless major business transactions. Deal toys emerging from this region might incorporate iconic landmarks like the Tower Bridge or the British pound sterling symbol, reflective of the city’s indomitable financial spirit. Notably, with London being a pivotal player in global finance, its deal toys sometimes meld international symbols, narrating tales of cross-border ventures.


Continental Europe’s Diverse Narrative

Venturing into the continental domain, the designs become even more varied. French deal toys might exude artistry, drawing inspiration from the Renaissance or even Parisian landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, emblematic of innovation and elegance. German designs could echo the nation’s prowess in engineering and automotive excellence, with miniature car models or industrial cogs symbolizing precision and innovation.

Italian deal toys, given the country’s rich history in art and culture, might be reminiscent of Roman architecture or Renaissance art. Meanwhile, Spain, with its vibrant culture, could incorporate motifs like the flamenco dancer or the bull, representing passion and strength in business dealings.


The Modern European Business Landscape

In recent times, Europe’s commitment to sustainability, green energy, and technological advancements has also influenced the design of deal toys. It’s common to see designs from Scandinavian countries, for instance, that emphasize clean energy, with wind turbines or solar panels encapsulated in lucite. Moreover, with the rise of fintech in places like Amsterdam and Dublin, modern deal toys may incorporate digital elements, QR codes, or even cryptocurrency symbols, reflecting the continent’s stride towards a digital future.

Cultural nuances enrich the tapestry of the corporate world, weaving stories of culture and commerce together. Through the lens of deal toys, all regions showcase their own multifaceted identity — a celebration of their past while simultaneously marching towards a future replete with innovation and progress.

How do industries outside of finance use deal toys? Are there industry-specific designs or trends in deal toys?

While finance first popularized deal toys, other industries have wholeheartedly embraced the tradition.

Tech Industry

In the tech world, deal toys might encapsulate silicon chips or depict algorithms, representing innovation and progress.


Pharmaceutical giants, on the other hand, may create designs symbolizing a groundbreaking drug or a DNA helix, emblematic of pioneering research.


The energy sector, encompassing oil, gas, and renewables, often incorporates symbols of power, sustainability, and nature.

What Does the Future Hold for the Undying Significance Tradition of Deal Toys?

As industries evolve and the corporate landscape shifts, the tradition of deal toys remains a constant. The future might bring augmented reality-enhanced deal toys or ones integrated with digital interfaces, making them more interactive.

The Robotic Handshake of Business Minds

Altrum Mid 2020s view on upcoming deal toys

Personalized Interactivity:

Advanced technologies might allow deal toys to become more interactive. Think of deal toys that connect to apps or platforms, offering a deep dive into the details of the deal, or even multimedia presentations.



As digital tools and platforms provide more information and interaction, the physical deal toy may lean towards minimalistic designs, symbolizing the core essence of the deal or the involved entities.

Our Late 2020s Predictions:

Integration of AI:

Artificial intelligence could play a role in the design and customization of deal toys, optimizing designs based on the preferences and histories of the involved parties.


Global Collaborations:

As the world becomes more interconnected, deal toys might be designed collaboratively across borders, reflecting the global nature of many modern transactions.

With technological advancements at their peak and societal values shifting towards inclusivity and sustainability, deal toys will likely continue to evolve, serving as both markers of financial achievement and mirrors reflecting the zeitgeist of the times.

However, their core essence—to celebrate, honour, and memorialize—will remain unchanged. These tokens of appreciation, through time, will continue to narrate tales of hard-fought successes, mergers of giants, and the indomitable spirit of commerce.

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