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Heaton Agate Company, Cairo, WV


By David Chamberlain

I would like to bring the Heaton Agate Companies marbles out of the dark ages for many of you and raise to the surface some hidden marble treasures. Heaton’s marbles are generally characterized as an amorphous mix of indistinguishable translucent and/or opaque swirls, the usual catch-all for declaring them dead on arrival!

The old Heaton Agate plant has passed from hand to hand and in 1999, looked much like the depiction in Photo #1 (by Suzie Metzler). Like much of the marble industry, there’s a regular line personnel progression from Heaton Agate to Bogard & Sons to Jabo, Inc. with cross-pollination by offshoots from Champion and Vitro Agate. If you can follow this, you obviously are already on solid ground when it comes to West Virginia/Ohio marble history.

PHOTO #1:Heaton Agate Company Building

I hate to debunk a good story that puts Heaton Agates birth date right there beside my own (1939), but contrary to Greenberg’s Guide to Marbles, the 1946-47 period is more like it. And while I am a disciple of Marlow Peterson and ready at the drop of a hat to witness about cats-eye marbles having come into my life, Heaton Agate did not predate by a decade the Japanese who flooded the market with them.

Okay on with the marbles! In Photo #2 are a dozen Heaton Agate marbles (predominantly 5/8) with fine provenance. They came into my possession after being given by the widow of William Heaton to her neighbor, David Hanlon (son of Oren Hanlon, co-founder of Heaton Agate), who gave them to Mike Johnson from whom I got them on trade! That’s about as honorable an attribution as you could come by. Officially, there’s no digging at the Heaton Agate site or none that’s admitted to! These 12 marbles would make anyone with an open mind take the seemingly ubiquitous swirl seriously.

PHOTO #2:Heaton Agate Company Marbles

To belie the slander of commonality to Heaton’s marbles, I submit to you the marbles in the following photos. Heaton oxbloods (Photo #3; 19/32) are rare. There was possibly only one run with most thrown out because the base glass wasn’t right. Robins Egg ( Photo #4; 9/16 ) gorgeous color with magnificent translucence. Prettier than many corkscrews. Exceedingly rare due to bad glass again.

PHOTO #3:Heaton Agate Company Marbles

PHOTO #4:Heaton Agate Company Marbles

Here’s a matching pair in Photo #5, guaranteed to split the uprights. The two are definitely wearing the same team colors!

PHOTO #5:Heaton Agate Company Marbles

And finally for all you enthusiasts for the aberrant aggies, here in Photo #6 are some squished, protruding, combined, and flattened varieties that got away from Heaton Agate which with little imagination and a slightly warped mind you can readily provide provocative names.

PHOTO #6:Heaton Agate Company Marbles

This is hardly an exhaustive study of the marbles of Heaton Agate but maybe in some small way it will bring respect, the light of day, and a budding interest to a heretofore overlooked American marble company.

David Chamberlain 2-6-05


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