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Jackson Marble Company
East Pennsboro, WV


By David Chamberlain

Additional comments by Ron Shepard

WARNING! The old Jackson Marble Company physical site is no longer user friendly due to the depredations of two lowlife guys who slithered out of the Florida swamps and drove up to East Pennsboro tearing up the site the day before the 2002 Cairo Marble Festival. We know who you are and your names live in infamy! They took about 20 gallons and left big holes. Now the owner won’t let anyone in, which is a shame because there are a lot of us who are respectful of marble property. Heck, Its Sacred Ground!

Here is what Jackson Marble looked like circa 1996 (Photo 1). This photo is a clear testament to the short-lived marble operation begun and ended in the mid-1940s. Jack never really got off the ground; undoubtedly why there’s such a desire to go to ground (literally) in coming up with examples. Thankfully, my main Jackson source, Mike Johnson, managed to secure some nice examples before the damage was done and the site became off limits.

Photo 1Jackson Marble Company

Again, we’re talking basically your generic slag cum translucent swirl with some rarer semi-opaque swirls tossed in. I have to take a time out here and pontificate:
Marble people for the most part are so conditioned to thinking in patterns, color combinations, sizes, any one of a number of set marble configurations that they can be looking straight at a specifically and individually gonzo marble (say, Jackson for example) and for the life of them, they will be blind to its particular beauty due to the veil that has been drawn across their potential consideration.

So, without hardly a passing recognition, a marble which undoubtedly during its original production produced rave exclamations from the guys watching them drop into the bucket, will evince nary a flicker of emotion and they’ll consign it to that vast and amorphous category of unknown marbles all they while being told Hey, here’s a bonafide Jackson marble of unique distinction and worthiness. I tell ya, it’s frustrating.

Often, I see that deathly marble text-phrase, little or no value. Like all that it’s about is the bucks. I’m susceptible to this as much as the next guy, but hope to think that my marble perspective has been tempered in the annealing process. Enough!

Let me show you a representative sampling of Jackson marbles. I am operating out of a small population total of 63 marbles. You might ask how do you know they’re Jackson? My small accumulation comes from authoritative acquisition and trade with highly reputable marble dealers, diggers, and/or collectors such as Al Rasmus, Bud Cloven, Mike Johnson, who generally offer ironclad provenance. And after a while, you tend to recognize the more distinctive styles as opposed to the universal swirl or slag. Even the lowly West Virginia Swirl or slag begins to take on personal characteristics.

Just to confuse matters, Vie set side-by-side in Photo 2, two pee wee Ravenswood marble (on the left) and two pee wee Jackson marbles. Easily mistaken one for the other as both are small, both have a gun-metal blue tight swirl (two shades of blue with a little white) yet the Jackson has some translucence whereas the Ravenswood is opaque and incidentally rare.

Photo 2Jackson Marble Company

Photo 3 has one of my favorite Jackson marbles. It has surface tear drops pollywog-like hovering over a fairly dense red-magenta matrix with light wisps of white. Gorgeous.

Photo 3Jackson Marble Company

No less distinctive are the six translucent swirls in Photo 4. Favorite as well! Each one has orange striping literally at the surface, a remarkable characteristic of this variety. The interior is a heavenly diffused mix of blue and lesser white swirling clouds. It’s a marble to die for! The blue is a thinner mix than the blue in Photo 2.

Photo 4Jackson Marble Company

I do believe blue was a favorite color of Carroll Jackson. In Photo 5, are seven marbles ranging from translucent to almost opaque with an unusually soft shade of blue all the more pronounced due to the mass of white which sets it off.

Photo 5Jackson Marble Company

And finally, to give Jackson Marble its due, here in Photo 6 is a nice representation of the companies slag output: light blue; dark blue; cobalt blue; light green; darker green; purple; amber; and in-between shades.

Photo 6Jackson Marble Company

I hope this puts an altogether new cast on your perception and appreciation of this American marble company which was gone as quickly as it came on the scene sixty years ago.

David Chamberlain, 3/12/05


Notes by Ron Shepard


Posted 01/11/07


If you have an interest in the Jackson Marble Co. I will add some more information. It may get a little long so hang in there with me, and don't shoot me for spelling or typing. First off, I am friends with David Chamberlain for years. We write back and forth often. I don't want to steal any of his thunder and praise his efforts and support of the less popular WV marble companies. I will try to add a few corrections from first hand knowledge to his article. I was at the Jackson site the day one local man and one man from Florida brought about the end of digging at the site by being greedy. The local man was my very first digging partner and I thought a friend. I was at the site twice that day and ask them, both times to please leave, that they had enough marbles for now. A neighbor even warned them both times that she would call the police which she did, and it stopped all digging, pure greed. They did take 20 gallons or more from the site, I saw the buckets of marbles in the truck from Florida. That was the last time I ever spoke to my past digging partner. A long story and his nickname around Ritchie County became The Snake.
In photo 1 of the site, standing in the main road facing the building, this picture is of the right side of the building. This is not the side where any of the marbles were made. This part of the site also produced very few marbles. From the main five diggers, only maybe one dozen, two at the most were found here. Greenberg’s guide 2nd edition describes the site location and the remaining building. Although it is not Tollgate, the site is closer to Pennsboro WV. Several people taking the tours of the old sites during the WVMCC show may remember the site and the story. The dug marbles were found on two of the other sides of the building, and in a ditch behind it, because Carol Jackson’s sons shot them up the hill into the woods with slingshots. Over the years they worked there way back down into the ditch. They were also found across on the other side of the road. I will make another post as how and why these marbles were dumped, all of them. There is some confusion as to the exact building where they were produced. The family was too young to remember 100% and no written records for help, plus most who would remember it are gone. It may have been the current building, the center section with the original metal roof, or a metal (tin) building which set on the left side that burned in the early 1970,s. The local and other thoughts on this are 50%/50% ???? The photo #3 is one of the more rare Jackson marbles and hard to find. Photo #4 these are being recognized and popular by collectors. Also the cream white in these will glow under a black light if true Jackson’s. Photo # 5, a hint for these is that if they are true Jackson’s they will glow bright under a black light. Also any of the cream color and red or sometimes orange stripe will also glow. This cream color is what glows; the true white that Jackson used does not glow. What you have seen and heard is only a tip of the total. There is about 18 to 20 different Jackson marbles, with one being labeled as the Jackson furnace because most (not all) were fractured. They are five colors and the brightest, most colorful, of all the Jackson marbles. These were all found in one separate location. I have had 10 or 12 original mesh Jackson bags, some straight from the person who got them at the factory. The marbles in the bags match what was dug. But as usual there were many colors or types that were not in the bags or ever packaged. A lot of the Jackson marbles probably 70-80% are unique to Jackson alone. I agree with David that maybe this will put a new cast or appreciation on another WV marble company. I am sure some of you have pictures of Jackson marbles and of the site, please post away. Now you have some of the secrets as how some of the lesser WV marbles can be identified.
More later

Posted 01/11/07

There are some pictures of Jackson marbles on the wed site. This has a few of the more rare ones pictured. The Jackson so named furnace marble is on the bottom row, second pic. Click on the pictures to enlarge.



Posted 01/11/07


Jackson marbles dumped, why and how. The Jackson marbles was one of my first couple chases. They had me hunting because some of the marble books then said there were little or no know examples. With the help and encouragement to keep looking, of a true friend and marble maker in Ellenboro WV, I was able to locate the site after about 4 tanks of gas and 4 or 5 Sundays. Then and only after I had done the work, he took me in confidence and showed me a five gallon bucket full of uncleaned Jackson marbles. He said the books say there are no examples of these, but the books are not always correct. The Jackson marbles were dumped many years later after the factory was long gone. Carol Jackson had no luck in selling his marbles. Some were sold to a very few local people and Champion Agate. While I was at work one day, I was showing some marbles including Jackson’s and a coworker friend (now retired) said what is the price of those bags again. Jack then said "I was the one who dumped those Jackson marbles". Jack dumped case boxes and boxes of the red mesh Jackson bags. Jack went to work out of high school (about 1967-69) for George Murphy who owned the building and car dealership. His first job was to clean out buildings, build a couple new bays onto the building. The two last bays added to the building have (lots) Jackson marbles under the concrete for fill. The marbles were also put around the building to drive cars on instead of gravel or slag, which cost too much money then; the marbles were free and needed disposed of. The tin building (burned early 1970,s) to the left of the main building was to be a body shop, so Jacks job was to clean it out. That was the last Jackson marbles to be dumped, new mint off of the machine. A total here of three 55 gallon drums full. These all went across the road because all the other spaces were full. Many still remain at the Jackson site. A shortened version of a long story. Only one of many stories of most all the WV marble companies or sites. All dumped marbles, good and bad, and all for different reasons.
A little information on one of the small marble companies, which kept me hunting. The big companies were easy.
Ron S.


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