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Alox Manufacturing Company


St. Louis, Missouri

1919 – 1989

Marble production: late 1930's to an unclear date, perhaps the late 1940's



The Alox Manufacturing Company was founded in 1919 in St. Louis, Missouri by John Frier with money he earned from dabbling in railroad stocks while he served in the Navy during World War I.  The Alox name was chosen so that the company name could be found near the front in phone books.  The company's first products were shoelaces and corsets.  They branched out into novelty toy items.  One item of note is a box kite John designed, and this wasn't merely toy.  AMMM puts it this way:  "One such kite was commissioned to promote the National Recovery Act in the 1930s.  During World War II, Alox kites caught the eye of the U.S. military, who commissioned a foil kite to attach to balloons as radar targets."

Another Alox toy was a Chinese checkers board.  Alox originally bought the marbles for these boards from a West Virginia marble company but the company sometimes had trouble filling the orders and eventually went out of business in the late 1930's. 

In order to have a reliable source of Chinese checkers marbles, John Frier went into the marble making business.   He purchased seven marble machines from a West Virginia company and hired two West Virginia marble workers to help him get started, according to the recollections of John Frier, Jr.  Natural gas not being as plentiful in Missouri as in West Virginia, the machines were modified to run on fuel oil, but Alox only had two fuel tanks so there were only two machines running at any one time.  The extra machines would eventually be a source of spare parts to keep two machines running as long as they could.  Marble production stopped during World War II, then resumed.  However, the aging machines were increasingly difficult to keep running and marble production ceased within a few years after the war.


Jack Jr. joined the company in 1950 and kept it running until it closed in 1989.  By 1950 marble production had stopped but Alox still had much stock on hand.  Alox marbles continued to be sold for many years after that, first in mesh packaging and then in plastic when the mesh bags were gone. 


Alox made opaques, clearies, swirls and patches.  They used both new and scrap glass.  Green could come from 7-Up bottles, brown from beer bottles, blue from Milk of Magnesia bottles, white from cold cream jars, etc.


Collectors should beware of a well-known kind of "fantasy" packaging with the Alox name on it.  They bags say Army, Navy or Air Force.  These are not authentic Alox items.  Many have modern Marble Kings in them.  Some contain Champion swirls. 


There is one more interesting chapter in the life of the Alox marble machines.  In 1975 all but two were scrapped.  Those two were sold to the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri where one of them was briefly brought back to life using the other for scrap parts.  A few imperfect marbles were made with Fenton cullet.  None of these marbles are known to exist today.





More information:


American Machine-Made Marbles, 2006, Dean Six, Susie Metzler and Michael Johnson



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