I looked in the Vitro book and there was no reference to Du-Lites in the index nor could I find any "Du-Lite" on the pages that had Tri-Lites. However, I did find the following that I had saved from an email from Chuck Brandstetter (RIP).
Vitro Tri-Lites, Du-Lites and Others
This is from an email from Chuck Brandstetter on November 6, 2005:
YES, Craig’s box is a Tri-lite gift box. Our box is a 100 count Tri-lite stock box. Of course, neither box had the name Tri-lite so we are both just guessing. Usually, the marble companies used better marbles in their gift boxes, although the marbles in our stock box are also nice. In my opinion, most of the better older Vitros made at the Vienna plant are Tri-lites and most of the real bland older Vitros are Du-lites.
The definition of a Tri-lite is up in the air somewhat. Cooper and Johnson in the Vitro book on page 9 say “Tri-lite patch marbles can be described as being a combination of one or more colors on an opaque or translucent base and a translucent base with white filaments …”. That statement was the first time that we knew that Vitro called these attractive marbles Tri-lites. Several of the people we hang with at marble shows have been discussing another definition. As we continue to think about it, we maintain that Tri-lites need at least three distinct colors. It would probably be something like “at least three distinct colors …”. The questions we have been asking ourselves are:
Can white be one of the three colors if the base glass is clear? Yes, if it’s a solid white, not just a wispy white. What if there are three distinct colors including white; but, no clear? Yes, this would include the “early All-Reds”.
The Vitro book doesn’t say this; but, we are sure that Vitro also made Du-lites, at least in the 1940’s because we have seen the name Du-lite on a Vitro price list. We have some Vitro mesh bags with two small color patches on white (red & blue on white, etc. - some have a hint of clear). Are they Tri-lites or Du-lites? Conquerors have a color patch & a white patch on a clear base. My opinion is that the first are low end Tri-lites and that Conquerors & some other marbles with only two colors are Du-lites.
The key might be, what did Vitro intend? Who knows? But, they certainly expected three distinct colors. They probably did NOT consider clear a color. They used at least some clear or clear with wispy white as a base glass in many of their early marbles. However, there are some early Vitros with different base glass – it probably depended on what cullet they got cheap the day before.
So, a simple definition of a Tri-lite might be “A TRI-LITE SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST THREE DISTINCT COLORS, NOT COUNTING CLEAR”.
Fisher was smart. Using a lot of clear base glass probably saved Vitro money in manufacturing. Calling marbles Tri-lites sends a subtle marketing message. Vitro marbles have three colors. They are better than other company’s marbles. At that time the most common marbles they were competing against were slags, one & two color corks, two color National Line Rainbows and two color swirls from Christensen and West Virginia companies. They may have felt that they had a slight competitive advantage by calling these marbles Tri-lites. They did sell a lot of them. They also had Du-lites for the less discriminating marble players. NOTE: We believe that Tri-lites were only made at the Vienna WV plant, NOT Parkersburg. Most Parkersburg marbles are veneered on white or clear base glass.
In an article in the first WVMCC Newsletter Tankgrrl (Chris Carrington) called these better older Vitro Tri-lites “Elites”. She was “right on”. In my opinion Tri-lites and Elites are the same thing. Elite is the modern name collectors used before they knew the name Tri-lite.
While clear should not be considered a color, transparent colors are, in fact, colors. Therefore, marbles commonly called Helmets by collectors which have a transparent color base are a sub-type of Tri-lite.
Tri-lite is a generic name for a large class of early Vitro marbles made in Vienna, WV. Within the class of Tri-lite are a number of different styles such as Helmets. There are also some really attractive different Vitro Tri-lite styles that have been called Buttermilks, Superiors (formerly called Mystery Patches) and Aquamarines by marble players & collectors. There are some other examples that have extra colors. I think that all of these are just Tri-lites with pizzazz. That is, high end or special Tri-lites.
So, in conclusion, there are basically four types of these early Vitros:
· Clear-lites – Clearies or transparent single color marbles
· Chinese Checkers – Opaque singe color marbles
· Dul-ites – Various lower end marble styles
· Tri-lites – Marbles with at least three different colors, not including clear
This is my opinion. I was thinking of an article for the WVMCC Newsletter along these lines to make it easier for people to understand what a Vitro Tri-lite is. What do you think? Does this make sense? If any of you have any comments, please share them with me. Maybe we can get this issue clarified a bit.