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Marble identification by manufacturer is sometimes difficult, in many cases

it is impossible.  What is most important is that a marble is attractive and

appealing to you.


Marble construction characteristics are one of the best ways for a collector

to identify the manufacturer.  Most people who have been collecting marbles

for any length of time would look at a nicely "corked" marble and recognize

it as having been made by the Akro Agate Company.  Those marbles are the

easiest to identify with a high degree of certainty.  Seams of a marble can

sometimes be an indicator of a manufacturer.  Veneering, another

manufacturing process that was utilized by several companies may also help

to determine who made a marble.  The reason that these marble construction

characteristics can often be used to identify the maker of a marble is that

different companies used different machines to make marbles.  Akro's spinner

cup, for example, produced the readily identifiable corkscrew marbles of

which there are many varieties.  The evolution of marble making machines

often resulted in an overlap in the construction and design of marbles

between different companies because each company used each others ideas and

sometimes the same machines.  From the time that M.F. Christensen first got

the ball (marble) rolling to the time that the last marble making machine

was manufactured, the technology of how to make the machines was not an

absolute secret although companies tried to keep it as such. There are

plenty examples of how information to make a marble machine got spread

around.  Horace Hill, who left the M. F. Christensen company to go to the

Akro Agate Company, took marble making information with him.  When Clinton

Israel and his group left Akro to form the Master Marble Company they didn't

have to reinvent the wheel.  The Peltier Company sold machines directly to

the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company.  The West Virginia marble companies

marbles are among the hardest to identify because they often had the same

shops make the machines.  The owners and workers often worked at different

companies at different times and sometimes even worked with each other to

get the job done.  Therefore, while each company had their own machines

these machines were sometimes similar as were the marbles thus making an

absolute identification difficult.


Related to marble construction is design / style which sometimes helps to

identify which company made a marble.  The first machine made marbles are

now called slags.  Many, but not all, MFC, Christensen, and Peltier slags

are fairly unique.  However, the majority of slags are probably Akro (at

least they can't be positively ID'd as another company).  Slag’s evolved into

transparent swirls in the 1930's.  Most of these are very difficult to place

with a certain manufacturer.  Opaque swirls are hard to identify as well.

Some swirls stand out as clearly Alley, Champion, Ravenswood, Cairo, Heaton,

etc.  However, many swirls can not be pinned down to a specific manufacturer

with 100% certainty.  Akro also made swirls as did Alox, Jackson, Playrite

& Davis.  Peltier swirled and ribboned marbles are fairly easy to identify

with experience.  Patches are hard to identify.  Some Akro, Master & Peltier

patches are fairly obvious, some not so much.  Most patch & ribbon marbles

are probably Vitro or Marble King and can easily be identified by

experienced collectors.


Color is another clue as to who made a marble. True oxblood in a marble is

limited to Akro with MFC bricks being an exception. 

However, several other companies did occasionally have a color many collectors

also call oxblood.  It usually is not true oxblood.

Some companies had very distinctive colors.  Christensen, Akro and Peltier

used colors that collectors readily recognize as specific to that company.

Ravenswood's tan/brown and blue is also quite distinctive as another example.

Cullet used by many companies sometimes helps determine a manufacturer.

Since cullet wasn't exclusively available to one marble manufacturer

identification by cullet is less reliable.  Finally, corporate espionage

leads one to suspect that a few formulas/recipes for color were not as

proprietary as the originators would have hoped.


Provenance.  My favorite is "I know a guy who lived around the corner from

the xxxx company. When he was a kid he picked the marbles up from their

parking lot so they must be the real thing".  Just because a marble came

from a companies property doesn't necessarily mean that company manufactured

it.  More likely provenance is when marbles have actually been dug at a

valid former manufacturers site or are identical to those that have been

dug.  Probably the best provenance is when marbles come from original

packaging that hasn't been tampered with or are identical to marbles in

those packages.  Even that provenance isn't perfect as it has been

documented that most marble companies at one time or another bought and

packaged marbles made by other marble companies.  Sometimes people claim

that they have a jar or box of marbles that hasn't been touched for 50 years

or more.  Maybe they are right.  But, even when the person is honest, a

possible flaw with that claim is that many times a batch of otherwise old

marbles has Jabo's or new foreign marbles mixed with the old marbles.  It

just happens.


In summary, I've done the best I can to identify marbles on my site.  Please

excuse me if you find a misidentified marble here.  For many marbles, a 100%

guaranteed ID may be the exception and not the rule.  There is a well known

and respected collector from West Virginia who when he ID's a marble will

say something like "I believe it is 70% Alley, 30% Ravenswood".  Given all

the variables used in identifying a marble that is a wise way to do it.

People who have spent years learning this hobby and studying marbles take

into account all of the variables above and more to make an educated

decision about a marble's manufacturer.  Sometimes all that can be said

about a marble is that it is a "pretty marble".  I have enlisted the help of

several people in creating this site.  So, marbles that are correctly

identified is a credit to them, the ones that are wrong are me "taking a

swing at it". If you see something that you question please let me know.


 Thank you, Joe Street

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