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Alox Manufacturing Co.


By David Chamberlain

Were all fairly familiar with the TIT-TAT-TOE boxes (Photo #1). Well, they were my first introduction to Alox. Some chap in the Midwest whose name I’ve forgotten suggested that he and I go in on a quantity purchase and I wound up with something like 40 of those boxes! You wonder at times the things we do to ourselves.

PHOTO #1:Alox Manufacturing Company

Wonder of wonders, it turns out that while one of the sets of five marbles were, as expected, all the same, the other set of five were almost always different and different sizes (5/8 to 13/16). What’s more, they had character. Not your throw-away marble by a long shot. Some even exhibited flame-like movement and there was one I only found a very few of which had spider-like webbing all over it. Unfortunately, that was early on and I sold them to a fellow in New Hampshire. Even called them Spiders. He was forever after me for more Spiders!

I particularly want to highlight these marbles from those boxes because they were misidentified in the book Marble Mania as belonging to Alley Agate Company (Photo #2). My suspicions are that the odd mix in those little boxes resulted because Alox didn’t have enough matching sets of five to complement the others in the box. However, they did have a wealth of these accidental beauties and figured the buying public was smart enough to get on with the game with this varied opposing set of five marbles. I suppose they said to themselves if you couldn’t figure it out, you probably shouldn’t be playing Tic-Tat-Toe in the first place! Occasionally, in the white opaque with green swirl marbles you can detect aventurine. In Photo 2, Row 3, marble number four has aventurine.

PHOTO #2:Alox Manufacturing Company

In those boxes you would also now and then find these 5/8 transparent Blue marbles loaded with bubbles and having two surface cut-off lines with two ghost-like bands connecting at the cut-offs. I’ve named the Blue Phantoms and a rarer green one a Green Phantom (Photo #3). Never seen another marble like it anywhere!

PHOTO #3:Alox Manufacturing Company

Id like to show off four of my favorite Alox marbles. The two in Photo #4 (13/16 and ) and the two in Photo #5 (5/8 each) which I got on a trade.

PHOTO #4:Alox Manufacturing Company

PHOTO #5:Alox Manufacturing Company

Alox actually started up after WWI (1919) and although marble production had ceased before the owners son, John Frier, Jr. (Jack), joined the company in 1950, there was a tremendous backlog of marbles on hand which the son marketed for years. The bag in Photo #6 is an example of a mesh bag Jack tossed together from this and that. Some had all translucent swirls while other bags had a general mix. I consider the all translucent swirl bags to be the purest. They’re 19/32 each.

PHOTO #6:Alox Manufacturing Company

Jack operated the company until 1989 when he retired and sold the property. Thus went into history another venerable marble company. But one of the marble making machines lives on and if you get the Mike Johnson, Dean Six, Susie Metzler Schiffer Publication marble book set when they come out this year, you’ll have the whole story of how Alox came to rest and its very special West Virginia connection.


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