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By George Sourlis


            Plate 1 shows what is currently thought to be Akro’s earliest box.  As you look down on the cover of the closed box you can see that it is shaped like a keystone at the top center of a Roman arch.  There are no alpha-numerics or logos on the outside at all. The tow parallel sides of the cover are its front (3-1/2 inches) and its back (5 inches).  They are about 4 inches apart.  The cover is attached to the bottom along the longer backside and can be lifted up and rotated back to expose the contents.  It has a downhill slope from back to front.  The backside is about 7/8 inches high while the front side is about 5/8 inches high.  This is a counter display box used to sell marbles from store display cases or counters when marbles were sold by the “onesies”.  As might be guessed from the geometry, the marbles inside have a variety of sizes.


            Opening the cover exposes not only the 25 marbles inside, but also the manufacturer’s identity.  The Akro Agate Company name, address, and logo are printed on the inside of the cover.  Note the address:  72 South Main Street, Akron, Ohio.  Akro moved from Akron to Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1914.  So this address is the first item indicating that this box predates the move.


            The magazine ads from 1912 and 1915 in Plate 2 show a range of years during which the box was available.  It may be that the box was available in 1911 and after 1915; I’m researching that now.  Notice that the two 1915 ads have Akro’s Clarksville address on the inside of the cover.  The 1912 ad having the Akron address is from the December issue of the American Boy Magazine.  The dimensions of this ad are about 2-1/2 inches wide by 1-1/4 inches high.  None of the ads occupies more than about twice this space.  So all are quite small.


            In addition to the dates, the ads hold other useful information about the boxes.  All three ads specify that the boxes hold 25 marbles in 5 different sizes, 5/8 inch through 7/8 inch (#0, #1, #2, #3, and #4).  Both the 1912 and the two 19145 ads state that the marbles have 5 colors.  For each color there were 5 different sizes.  In the 1915 ads the colors are not given.  However, the 1912 ad states the colors as red, brown, blue and green onyx and jade and turquoise.  So the jade and turquoise (game) marbles were found in the earlier boxes.  Here is a second indicator of the date for the box shown in Plate 1.  This box shows jade and yellow (game) marbles.  So this box is the earlier version circa 1912.  All of the ads give the mail-order price – 50 cents.  The 1915 ads even offered an extra box free with any order of 5 boxes.  The type of marble in both 1915 ads is specified as “striped onyx” (slags), but no type is given in the 1912 ad.


            Something that is not stated in the ads is that the marbles were not made by Akro, but by M.F. Christensen & Son.  While in Akron, Akro was a jobber of M.F. Christentsen & Son marbles.  It bought Christensen marbles and packaged them under the Akro brand name.  It was Christensen & Son that made the green Jadite and Persian Turquoise (game) marbles.  It also made all of Akro’s striped onyx marbles then.  Akro used the term “striped onyx” as a marketing ploy to distinguish its onyx marbles from Christensen’s onyx marbles.


            For years collectors did not believe that Christensen made red onyx marbles.  But the 1912 ad shows that they did.  Reds are very difficult to find.  One reason may be that the coloring agent used to make red glass was more expensive than other coloring agents; it contained gold.  Perhaps not many were made.  For some reason the yellow (game) marbles in this box are also quite rare.  So the ad and this example of the box show two rare colors that were used, and the box shows that the packing was not always exactly as advertised.


            Another indicator of the date of this particular box is shown in Plate 1.  It’s the Akro mailer for the box.  The postmark is not dated, but the stamps can be dated.  (I was a stamp collector in the past.)  In the post office stamp catalogs it is shown that these two-cent stamps were last printed in 1911.


            I want to thank Hansel deSousa for the box and mailer pictures used here.  This unusual Akro counter display box is his.


Plate 1 Early Akro Agate Counter Display




Plate 2 Ads for this Akro Counter Display Box





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