This is from Joe’s marbles and written by George Sourlis.
GROPPER’S No. 5 AND No. 10 BOXES
By George Sourlis
During the late 1920s and the early 1930s, M. Gropper and Sons was a prominent jobber of marbles. It bought marbles form Peltier Glass Company, Christensen Agate Company and Akro Agate Company and sold them under its own company name. The company may not always have had the same name or may have used two names. This is indicated in the letterhead shown in Plate 1.
PLATE 1 THE GROPPER ONYX AMRBLE COMPANY LETTERHEAD
Gropper’s No. 5 and No. 10 National Onyx boxes and National Rainbo boxes are shown in Plates 2 and 3, respectively. The earliest No. 5 boxes contained 5 marbles, while the earliest No. 10 boxes held 11 marbles. The terms “National Onyx” and “National Rainbo” are company specific to the Peltier Glass Company. Onyx marbles are known by collectors as slags, and white-based rainbos are sometimes called Peltier baseballs. The sides and backs of the No.10 boxes are similar to those shown for the No. 5 boxes.
PLATE 2 NATIONAL ONYX BOXES
PLATE #3 NATIONAL RAINBO BOXES
The typical interior geometry of these boxes is unusual as shown in Plate 4. The top lid closes by folding forward, while the bottom closes by folding backward. On the bottom back and top front of the box are fold-in shelves or steps. They create vacant spaces roughly from below and above the black center band on the front of the box to the bottom and top, respectively. Some boxes have U-shaped inserts on each end instead of the attached ones below. Because they are not attached to the box, boxes may be found without them.
PLATE 4 GROPPER NO. 5 & NO. 10 BOX DESIGN DETAIL
Advertisements from wholesale catalogs for all of the above boxes are shown in Plate 5, one of the last 2 pages of this newsletter. They first appeared in 1926. The ad for 1927 is essentially the same as for 1926. In both years, the No. 5 box contained 2 #0 and 3 #1 marbles. The No. 10 boxes contained 4 #0 and 6 #1 marbles plus 1 #2 shooter. Look closely, and it is apparent that the 2 lower holes in the No. 5 boxes are short rectangles having semicircular ends.
The ads in Plate 5 for the No. 5 box in 1928 and 1929 show that the lower slots have been changed into circular openings. Close reading of the fine print indicates that the marbles have changed size in both boxes. In the No. 5 box there were 2 #00s and 3 #0s, while in the larger box there were 4 $00s and 6 #0s plus 1 #2 shooter. The total marbles in each box stayed the same – 5 and 11, respectively. The physical box sizes stayed the same. Product changes in 1928 reflect Gropper’s excellent market skill.
PLATE 5 GROPPER AD
In the 1930 ad shown in Plate 6, the No. 5 box is not shown. So it is uncertain if the lower opening remained circular; the marbles’ sizes were changed back to the large sizes of 1926 and 1927. The number of marbles in each box remained the same, and the physical sizes of the boxes were unchanged.
The 1931 ad for the No. 5 and No. 10 boxes in Plate 6 shows two changes. Each circular opening in the No. 5 box has reverted to the earliest opening shape. Best of all, the number of marbles in each box size has increased. The No. 5 increased to 6 marbles: 3#0s and 3 #1s, while the No. 10 increased to 13 marbles: 6 #0s, 6 #1s, and 1 #2. The physical sizes of the boxes remained unchanged, and the marbles are the same sizes as in the 1926, 1927, and 1930 boxes.
Included in this article is the successor to these Gropper boxes. It is the Peltier Glass Company No. 106 shown in both Plate 7 below and the ad I Plate 6. It contained 10 marbles: 8 #0s and 2 #1s. A larger version of this box is also advertised; it contained 18 marbles: 14 #0s and 4 #1s. To the best of my knowledge, this box has not yet been found in the wild.
Pictures for Plate 7
PLATE 7 PELTIER GLASS COMPANY NO. 106 BOX AND MARBLES
Although studying the artwork and the fine print in this 6 consecutive-year sequence of ads has yielded great insight into these two Gropper boxes, at least 2 more important conclusions can be drawn. The change from the 103- National Onyx boxes to the 1931 National Rainbo boxes may mark the start of production by Peltier of the National Rainbo style. Also, the popularity of the slag (onyx) was fading fast. The ads for 1931 could easily have featured both lines, but they did not. The National Onyx line was so much less desirable then the National Rainbo line that only one line was offered after 1930 in these wholesale catalogs. (Peltier in 1932 did not even offer a small box featuring the National Onyx line.)
I want to thank Charles and Diane Brandstetter and Lester Jones for allowing me to photograph and use their boxes in this article.