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Steph

Vitro Timeline

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Reading the Marble Museum's Vitro book I'm seeing some dates which might be helpful to have in a ready reference format. So here goes. I may update it as I find out more.

*** The Vitro-Agate Company, 1932 - 1969 ***

Vienna, WV -- 1932

(mailing address was in Parkersburg even while the plant was in Vienna)

1930's:

  • Clear-Lite
  • Du-Lite
  • Tri-Lite
  • The original All-Reds were Tri-Lites. Packaged in mesh bags, and in cartons. Bags were labelled Shooters, Spinners, Buddies, Sunny Boy and Seniors. There is also a bag labelled Pee-Wees from that era.
  • Collectors names for different varieties of Tri-Lite include: Helmet, Elite, Superior, Aquamarine, Buttermilk, ... (to be continued?)

In the 1940's, during WWII, the following were introduced.

  • Conquerors
  • Victory Agates

Parkersburg, WV -- 1945

1951: Tiger-Eyes were introduced

1952: Aqua Jewels, said to be Vitro's "most successful line of marbles". Described by Henry Fisher in 1967 as "hotter'n heck, has been for many years".

First made in Gold, Crystal, Blue, Green and Azure. Ruby would come later, in 1958. It wasn't initially considered practical because of the high price and general shortage of selenium.

It is noted that Clearies were previously sold under the names Tri-Clear and Marine Gems. The name Marine Gems was trademarked by Vitro in 1941.

1954: Cat's eyes were introduced

1957: Do not know yet when they were introduced. However, Blackies and Whities were available for sale in this year.

1958: The Ruby Red clearie was introduced.

1958 or later: The "fingers" marbles were made after the Ruby Red clearie, and they were the precursor of the caged style cat's eye.

1959: The more familiar All-Red was introduced. First the "black line" all-reds. I don't yet know how long it was before the black line was dropped.

1964: Yellow Jackets were introduced. (Thanks to George Sourlis for this updated information.)

1965: Blackies and Yellow Jackets were still being advertised. (Thanks to Al for this information.)

*** Acquired by Gladding-Kalamazoo Sled and Toy, Inc., a WV corporation, 1969 ***

*** Name changed to Gladding-Vitro Agate Company ***

Owner of record is Gladding, a NY company, 1971

1981: Manager is John Masters

*** Acquired by Paris Manufacturing Corporation of South Paris, Maine, 1982 to 1985, or to 1987? ***

*** Name changed back to Vitro Agate ***

*** Purchased by the Viking Rope Company, 1987 to 1988 ***

*** Plant relocated to Anacortes, WA, home of Viking Rope, 1989 ***

*** Purchased by Jabo, Inc., 1992 to 1993 ***

*** Machines and old stock moved to the Ohio River, 1993 ***

(plant is in Reno, OH, mailing address is or has been in Parkersburg, WV)

Sounds like Jabo might not have purchased Vitro's old stock after all. See comments below. Not sure at this time where I heard that they had.

Primary source:

The Vitro-Agate Company, The Marble Museum's Guide to the Glass-Agate Company, 2005, by Chris Cooper and Michael Johnson

Museum website:

www.marblemuseum.org

Additional information from:

American Machine-Made Marbles, 2006, by Dean Six, Susie Metzler, and Michael Johnson

Edited by Steph

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1). Any info in that Vitro book (or other sources) about Parrots? I assume they were made around the time of Tiger Eyes but don't know for sure (my reasoning has to do with incremental evidence, including the presence of lavender -- see below). Anything on Phantoms (1950s?)?

2). When you say "old" All-Reds (meaning pre-1959), do you mean the black band All-Reds? It would make sense that the black band All-Reds, Blackies and Whities were made around the same time -- 1950s?

3). I notice in my collection that lavender was used in Tiger Eye types and 4 vane cats eyes. Yet, I can't find it in All-Reds, Blackies, Whities or 5 vane cats. Granted, my collection is meager. (Six, et al, says they found only one example of a Blackie with lavender -- American Machine-Made Marbles). Do you have any of these marbles with lavender?

Of the basic colors found in Tiger Eyes and Conquerors (yellow, orange, red, lavender, green, light blue, dark blue, green, brown (or is this really a dk shade of orange?) and black -- it seems only lavender is lost (by the 1960s?). Or was it? I wonder if the restrictions on lead crystal glass, metals and uranium (around 1960) is related to the loss of this color from the Vitro palette or if it is just coincidence. What happened to Vitro and Gladding lavender?

Similarly, I have Helmets, Tri-lights, Conquerors and Phantoms that glow under blacklight (presence of Uranium). No TigerEyes, All-Reds, Blackies, Whities, or hybrid Cat Eyes that glow.

On a related topic, I once asked a university professor (chemistry, molecular physics) if it would be possible to discern the chemical composition of certain marbles by crushing them and separating out their chemical compositions (in some cool scientific way). He said, yes. But it would be a very expensive experiment involving complex machinery. Oh well. We'll have to wait until advancements in science allow for a home version! He thought it was intriguing though.

It would be great to get a scientific account (i.e. chemistry) of the change in colors in the 1950s and 1960s due to federal restrictions.

Joe

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1). Any info in that Vitro book (or other sources) about Parrots? I assume they were made around the time of Tiger Eyes but don't know for sure (my reasoning has to do with incremental evidence, including the presence of lavender -- see below). Anything on Phantoms (1950s?)?

Parrots ...

Your hunch seems to be good. Vitro book says, "Marble types related to the Tiger-Eye line are four color Parrots and three color Parakeets."

That's all I've seen on this in the book so far. I don't know if that means they were made concurrently or if they are more like descendants.

The first person I'd ask for extra info on the dates of parrots would be Ron Shepherd. Some of the best info we have online about the parrots are anecdotes he tells about his friend Blain Lemon who started working at Vitro in the 40's and was plant manager there from 1962 - 1967.

Phantoms ...

A collectors' name for a type of conqueror, is all I know. I'm pretty sure the company didn't distinguish between them. If I'm reading correctly, both the regular and phantom types were found in the mesh bags. I don't know when they were most prevalent.

LOL ... you can see now how much help I'm going to be! wink.gif

I'm just learning. I love a good question to give me something to read more about. smile.gif

Well, carrying on ....

2). When you say "old" All-Reds (meaning pre-1959), do you mean the black band All-Reds? It would make sense that the black band All-Reds, Blackies and Whities were made around the same time -- 1950s?

All-Reds ...

I believe the blackline all-reds were the ones which were introduced in 1959.

I don't know what the 1930's or 1940's tri-lite version looked like. But check on p. 178 of AMMM, to get a glimpse.

Whities and Blackies ...

When Whities and Blackies were introduced, I cannot tell (don't see it in the Vitro book, haven't yet read most of the AMMM section on Vitro). But they were being sold in 1954 or later, because they can be seen in an advertisement with Cat's eyes. [edit: I need to pull the Vitro book out again. I might have been looking at a 1957 ad. I need to check to see if it's the same one as the 1957 ad I posted later in this thread.]

Funny, I just noticed that those are the "reverse blackies" in that ad. (p. 42 of the Vitro book) I don't know how the reverse blackies compare timewise to the "regular" blackies.

I'm seeing lots of header examples in the Vitro book, which might someday help me figure out the dates on the marbles ... once I learn more about which headers are older or newer.

This is long enough. I'll say what little I know about the rest in the next post. And then I think I'll send out an SOS to Ron about the parrot dates.

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3). I notice in my collection that lavender was used in Tiger Eye types and 4 vane cats eyes. Yet, I can't find it in All-Reds, Blackies, Whities or 5 vane cats. Granted, my collection is meager. (Six, et al, says they found only one example of a Blackie with lavender -- American Machine-Made Marbles). Do you have any of these marbles with lavender?

Of the basic colors found in Tiger Eyes and Conquerors (yellow, orange, red, lavender, green, light blue, dark blue, green, brown (or is this really a dk shade of orange?) and black -- it seems only lavender is lost (by the 1960s?). Or was it? I wonder if the restrictions on lead crystal glass, metals and uranium (around 1960) is related to the loss of this color from the Vitro palette or if it is just coincidence. What happened to Vitro and Gladding lavender?

Lavender? ...

That is a very interesting observation about lavender. I recommend asking about it in the main chat area. Deserves lots of eyes looking at. imho

I don't have many whities or blackies!

Of the lavender cats I currently own, all are 4-vane.

Al has hundreds (thousands?) of bags though. Maybe he could check some of his Gladding bags for lavender. There are some folks who go out of their way to collect cats too. Maybe they could help.

Similarly, I have Helmets, Tri-lights, Conquerors and Phantoms that glow under blacklight (presence of Uranium). No TigerEyes, All-Reds, Blackies, Whities, or hybrid Cat Eyes that glow.

Vaseline Vitros? ...

Another interesting observation.

Your Vienna Vitros (such as helmets) and early conquerors having uranium glass ... that's reasonable. Your blackies and whities and tiger eyes not having it also sounds reasonable.

This is from a vaseline glass collectors site, vaselineglass.org:

Vaseline Glass was primarily made from 1840, up to just before WWII, and then was continued from 1959 to the present.

I've sold a lot of vaseline glass mibs, and some of them have been cage style cats. I think some of them may have been chubby vaned Vitro cats, but I can't be sure about that.

Of all the vaseline glass cats I have left, only one appears to be Vitro. It's a cage-type cat, and not a hybrid, or only barely so. It's one of the type which has such fluttery vanes that they are hard to count. Easy to believe it is 1960's or later. (Note: I only say "appears to be Vitro" because I've seen this fluttery vane type questioned before.)

On a related topic, I once asked a university professor (chemistry, molecular physics) if it would be possible to discern the chemical composition of certain marbles by crushing them and separating out their chemical compositions (in some cool scientific way). He said, yes. But it would be a very expensive experiment involving complex machinery. Oh well. We'll have to wait until advancements in science allow for a home version! He thought it was intriguing though.

It would be great to get a scientific account (i.e. chemistry) of the change in colors in the 1950s and 1960s due to federal restrictions.

Joe

Yup, it sure would be!!! happy.gif

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good start, Steph! i don't know where they fit, but "Yellow Jackets" was another package name and variety that i think deserves distinction.

a couple things: i too have at least one UV-reactive based cat's-eye (which I believe to be Vitro) although i don't think it's a hybrid. Vitro for sure made some patch-and-ribboned marbles that glow under black-light, but i wouldn't call them vaseline glass. i'll have to check to see if they fall in the Tiger-Eye/All-Red types, but i think they do.

as for lavender: not sure if i've seen it in the 5-vaner cats, but i have it in at least one 6-vane Vitro; and the closest i've seen to the lavender Blackies that are supposed to exist were some taupe-colored ones--not pink enough to be called lavender by my pallet.

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I'm still unclear on when Yellow Jackets were made.

For at least part of their life they were made concurrently with All-Reds, yet were made only a "short" time (whatever that means exactly). The ratio of blackline all-reds to yellow-jackets is very high. One figure I heard was 25 to 1.

So it seems that this might put the Yellow Jackets in the year 1959, plus or minus a "short" time.

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Cool! Thanks George!

I knew that once upon a time. Somewhere along the way I forgot. I need to regroup and start organizing things over here again. Right now most of my saved pix and documents are on DVDs waiting for a reformat of my computer . . . when I find the system disk! :computer-18:

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Update.

Yellow Jackets and Blackies were still being advertised in the late 1960's. This is confusing to me!

Wondering if it was old material recycled in a new ad, or if the styles were really still being made then, or if the names were being used but the styles were not. or what?

Here's the 1968 ad Al posted. Edit: it's a 1965 ad. Still a little late. I'm leaning to the theory that the ad writers might not have been up-to-date on Vitro's actual production. Seems to me that All-Reds should have been in this ad in 1965, if any named patch styles were there. To the best of my understanding at this time.

VitroBlackiesAd_Al_p26532.jpg

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Okay, I'm honestly surprised. It now appears that Yellow Jackets were introduced after All-Reds. 1964 for Yellow Jackets.

I hope I put "if I understand correctly" in all the posts where I may have said that Yellow Jackets were made in the 1950's.

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George sent several interesting ads, and Al sent another copy of the one he posted which got me wondering about Yellow Jacket dates.

1957 (check out the Blackies - I think this might be earlier than the more famous version of Blackies)

VITROBLACKIESAQUAJEWELSAD-10-57-1.jpg

1957

VITROWHITIESCATEYESAD-10-57TOYSN-1.jpg

July 1964

YELOWJKETINTROOFINTROIN7-1--1964-1.jpg

August 1964 (handle interpretations of this ad with care)

VITROYELLOWJACKETAD8-1964TTOYSNO-1.jpg

1965, again smile.gif

VitroBlackiesAdcopy1965-1-1.jpg

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That is what I understood also. I had questioned some time back if Jabo packaged some of the Vitro Anacortes marbles when they first started out and I was told "No", that Jabo did not buy the marbles.

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Thanks guys. I added a quick note. I'll try to make a better update later. I don't remember where I heard/read that they got the old stock.

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That's pretty interesting isn't it. :D Chuck B suggests that people take that ad with a grain of salt. If I'm not mistaken that warning translates monetarily into something like this: Marbles with the wide black ribbon around the middle might command more money than an obvious all-red with a thin black line but not as much money as the obvious yellow-jackets with green or blue ribbons.

And what about the ones with the white equator? Were those different in any way from the ones sold in All-Red bags?

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Steph, I just found this tonight. I have 2 whities, the 5/8th size with a ivory white equatorial band. I also have lavender whities. i think 7 of them. I can take pics, but can't edit until I learn the new program, but will post pics when I can.

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On 6/14/2008 at 3:21 PM, Steph said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** Acquired by Paris Manufacturing Corporation of South Paris, Maine, 1982 to 1985, or to 1987? **

Did they ever make marbles in South Paris, Maine?

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