Skip Navigation

Sign In or Register

West-virginia-encyclopedia-text

SharePrint Marbles

West Virginia is a world center of glass marble manufacturing, with all but one North American manufacturer located within the state. Play marbles account for only a small portion of production, with most marbles sold to industry for use as aerosol can agitators, in filtering applications, and for other uses. Marble factories also make ‘‘gems,’’ clear glass disks used in aquariums and to anchor flower arrangements.

The advent of marble-making machinery in the early 20th century helped bring the industry to West Virginia, which already had a robust glass industry. By the late 1930s, there were several marble manufacturing plants in the state, including the Akro Agate Company in Clarksburg. Akro Agate was founded in Ohio in 1910 and moved to Clarksburg in 1914. Like other glass producers, the company was attracted to West Virginia because of the abundance of glass sand and natural gas. Akro Agate was among the nation’s most productive marble makers, remaining in business until 1951.

Other early marble companies include Master Marble in Anmoore and Bridgeport, which exhibited millions of marbles at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago; Heaton Agate of Cairo; and Ravenswood Novelty Works of Ravenswood, known for its ‘‘Buddy’’ brand. Champion Glass of Pennsboro and Mid-Atlantic of West Virginia in Ellenboro are still in business, although each produces a limited supply of play marbles. Alley Agate, which was located at different times in Paden City, Sistersville, Pennsboro, and St. Marys, is the parent company to Marble King, which continues to produce marbles in Paden City.

Vitro Agate in Vienna and Parkersburg operated from 1932 to 1987 and was later bought out by Jabo Inc. of Ohio. Jabo-Vitro established a second marble plant in Williamstown, and is among the four remaining machine-made glass marble operations in North America. Jabo’s Marietta, Ohio, plant is the only American marble manufacturer located outside West Virginia. Dave McCullough, Ritchie County native and president of Jabo-Vitro, learned marble making from Don Michels of Champion Glass and Louis Moore of Vitro Agate. Although the main products at Jabo-Vitro are industrial marbles and gems, McCullough began in 1991 to create several color designs of play marbles for a limited run each spring and fall. Known as ‘‘Classics,’’ these are sought by collectors.

Before Martin Christensen invented the marble-making machine in 1905, all glass marbles were handmade. A resurgence of the handcraft came about in the late 20th century, largely due to an increased interest among collectors in contemporary art-glass marbles.

This Article was written by Scot E. Long

Last Revised on October 08, 2010

Related Articles


Cite This Article

Long, Scot E. "Marbles." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 October 2010. Web. 13 December 2018.

Comments?

There aren't any comments for this article yet.

West Virginia Humanities Council | 1310 Kanawha Blvd E | Charleston, WV 25301 Ph. 304-346-8500 | © 2018 All Rights Reserved

About e-WV | Our Sponsors | Help & Support | Contact Us The essential guide to the Mountain State can be yours today! Click here to order.