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By Chuck Brandstetter


No, not 57 varieties of Heinz Catsup; 57 different color combinations of Vitro Tiger Eyes (type 1).  Last year in an article in the WVMCC Newsletter (issue 11, May 2005), I identified four different styles of Vitro Tiger Eyes.  Type 1 is the earliest and most common style.  It has a clear base with a color patch on the top, a white patch on the bottom and a half &half ribbon around the middle.  (see photo #1)  The ribbon is usually two colors although it can also be just one color.


Common Tiger Eye

Photo #1


The common Tiger Eye (type 1) made in the early 1950’s has always intrigued me because of the many different color combinations that can be found.  So, I began looking for and accumulating the various combinations.  To simplify my search I came up with a code for each variety I found.  Color 1 is for the top patch color, Colors 2 & 3 are for the ribbon colors … C1 (top patch) ~ C2/C3 (ribbon/ribbon).  Some examples:  Y ~ O/P is Yellow patch and an Orange/Purple Ribbon.  BB ~ O/Y is Baby Blue patch and an Orange/Yellow ribbon.  As you will soon see it is necessary to identify the two colors in the ribbon in alphabetical order.  Otherwise you will eventually become confused.  At least I did.


For many years I have been acquiring the different color combinations never knowing how many there were.  Finally, it got so complicated I decided to put some order to it.  This is what I discovered.  Vitro only used six different colors for the top patch and ribbon(s), plus white for the bottom patch.  In alphabetical order the colors are:  Baby Blue, Blue, Green, Orange, Purple & Yellow.  Therefore, there are six different color patches that can be used for the top of the marble.  Since it doesn’t make sense for the ribbon to be the same color as the top patch, there are five colors (for each top patch color) that can be used.  Because the ribbon can have one or two colors, there are many different color combinations for each color patch.  After some fooling around, it became clear that a 5 x 5 table shows all possible different color combinations (25 different combinations).  Ten of the ribbon color combinations are identical because they are just opposite each other (ex. Orange/Yellow ribbon is the same as Yellow/Orange ribbon).  That means that there are ten different possible 2/color ribbons and five different 1/color ribbons for a total of 15 different possible ribbons for each color patch.


Chart A
Chart A


Tiger Eye Combinations Color Chart


Since there are six different color top patches with 15 different possible ribbon combinations for each patch, there are a total of 90 different color combinations for the common Vitro Tiger Eye (type 1).  (see chart A)  After years of searching I’ve found 57 of them.  (see chart B)


If you are a little confused that is OK.  I was confused for 2 years.  Go back to photo #1.  Did you notice that there are three different color combinations in that photo?  Each has a different color patch (Orange, Purple & Yellow) with two other colors making up the 2 color ribbon.  P ~ O/Y is common.  O ~ P/Y and Y ~ O/P are rare.


Even though there are 90 possible combinations for the Vitro Tiger Eye (type 1), that doesn’t mean that all 90 exist.  The marble workers probably did not try to get all possible color combinations but just wanted to get interesting combinations.  It is unlikely that we will ever find all 90.  Or is it???  Anyway, if anyone can find color combinations that I’m missing, please let me know.


At this point it must be noted, that other variations of the Vitro Tiger Eye (type 1) can be found.  My opinion is that they are just simple variations:  Light Purple or Dark Purple and Green or Aventurine Green.  Most likely there are other color variations.  There are also errors.  The most interesting one we have is Y ~ Y/Y.  We have also found ribbons missing a color; but, the missing color is brighter White than the bottom White patch.


Included are group photos of some of the different color combinations of the Vitro Tiger Eye (type 1).  Photo #2 has seven common color combinations.  Photo #3 has seven rare color combinations.  All Orange patches are rare.  For those who may be interested, we have included a chart (Chart C) as a checklist that you can use to see many different color combinations of Vitro Tiger Eyes (type 1) you can find.  The good news is that most of these marbles can be found for $1.00 and often much less.


Finally (and I hate to bring this up); there are at least three other styles of Vitro Tiger Eyes to be researched.


Special thanks to Mike Adams for the color chart & graphics and Bob Byard for the photos.


Chart B

Chart B


Chart D

Chart C


Photo #2

Photo #2


Photo ##

Photo #3


This Article first appeared in the West Virginia Marble Collectors Club Newsletter


Issue 17      Dec 2006


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