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Davis Marble Company


Pennsboro, West Virginia

1947 – 1948



The Davis Marble Company was founded by a father and son team, Burnell and Wilson Davis, after Wilson returned from military service in 1946.   Marbles were a well known industry in the area and looked like a promising proposition. 


The Davises acquired an old Alley marble machine which had been sold to Corning Glass for experimental use.  They began production in the spring of 1947 using recycled glass from different sources, including Coca Cola bottles and Vitrolite.  Things were proceeding relatively smoothly.


Unfortunately, they weren't the only ones who had seen what an opportunity marbles might be.  Several other companies started production in the mid-1940's, including Cairo Novelty, Jackson and Playrite.   The market was flooded with marbles and prices started to drop. 


At the same time the cost of cullet and natural gas rose dramatically.  All producers were feeling the crunch.


The established producers naturally did what they could to protect their interests.  Local buyers were discouraged from buying from the new companies. 


Davis had to cast a wider net in search of clients.  They advertised in the New York Times and finally made an agreement with a small toy company which planned to give marbles away as promotional items.  90% of the Davis production was wrapped up in this deal.  The marbles were exported directly to Puerto Rico.  The arrangement was not profitable. 


It was clearly not a good market for a new company.  The Davises made their last marbles in the spring of 1948.  They kept the marble machine for several more years in the hope that one day they might be able to make another try.  This never happened.


Their total output is estimated at approximately 14 million marbles and as noted, most of these were exported.




More information:


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


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