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Berry Pink -- A Legend In The Making


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Here's what appears to be a "press release" type article dated Jan. 28, 1941 about Berry Pink from when he was in the middle of building his empire.

Interesting to see something from relatively early on. Subject to hype perhaps but still fresh. Still very close to the early events of his career as they were happening. He would have been about 40. The start of the Marble King company was still 8 years away at this time.

(click to enlarge)



It's hard to read so I've done my best to transcribe it. Not sure I have it all right.

Succeeds in Turning

Refuse Into Gold Mine

Four years ago an American

named Berry Pink took the after-

noon off from his work and strolled

disconsolately through the city. He

was fed up with his work and was

trying desperately to think of some-

thing new to do.

As he walked he noticed refuse, . . . . . . . <---- did I read that correctly?

and idly stood and watched while

they tipped the rubbish into a cart.

He was suprprised to see how many . . . . . . . <---- ?

dirty old milk bottles and fragments . . . . . . . <---- ?

of broken glass tumbled into the

cart and although he soon resumed

his walk, the germ of an idea had

entered his head.

There must be some use to which

all the wasted broken and used glass

in American could be put. And then

he remembered a game he had

played in his youth, and, in a flash

the idea came to him--marbles--

that was the solution.

Now, Berry Pink was what the

Americans call a go-getter. Once

started on an idea he saw it through . . . . . . . <---- ?

--and with a vengeance! In a short

while he had established a factory

and was busy buying up all the old

bottles, cold-cream jars and bits of

glass he could lay his hands on, and

converting them all into marbles.

He also instituted a campaign to . . . . . . . <---- ?

make America thoroughly "marble-

conscious"--and he succeeded be-

yond his wildest dreams.

Today Berry Pink is known all

over America as "The Marbles

King" and, thanks to his efforts,

more than 5,000,000 people in the

U. S. play the game.

The work he was fed up with might have been the one where he was jobbering Peltiers at Rosenthal.

I wonder if the piece did come from Berry Pink Industries as part of the their PR or if it was written by someone on the outside.

" In a short

while he had established a factory

and was busy buying up all the old

bottles, cold-cream jars and bits of

glass he could lay his hands on, and

converting them all into marbles. "

That sounds as if it says that Berry Pink actually made marbles himself in the late 30's. Is it possible?

Is the location of his factory known? Whether it was simply a recycling plant or actually a marble factory, where would it have been?

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One reason it is interesting to see something as early as 1941 is that by 1962 there were significant errors in the history. Oh my goodness is that wrong in some places.

(click link below for larger version, might have to doubleclick for full size)



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Some of the mistakes in the obituary would be him "acquiring" factories in Sistersville and Ottawa by 1922 -- when he was only 22.

Berry Pink did have something to do with the Alley company shortly after Lawrence Alley started it, sometime around 1930. But supposedly Alley made his own marble machine and Pink wasn't listed as a partner on a 1930 deed for the Sistersville property used by "The Lawrence Glass Novelty Company" as it was officially known then.

Pink had sort of a pretentious reputation in Sistersville. Stayed at a fancy hotel when he came in from New York and wouldn't drink the local water. And then he seems to have left under a legal cloud, something about problems with a marble packaging machine.

He had a relationship with the Peltier company in Ottawa in the 1930's, but in 1922?

One might think the 1922 date is simply a typo, except that it is coupled with the implication that a marble-making machine "perfected" by Pink was responsible for replacing clay marbles in the marketplace.

While there may be something to explore about the relative expense of clays and glass marbles and what role Berry Pink might have had in promoting glass marbles, glass marble making had already been automated by the first time Pink is on any well-known record as being involved with the marble industry.

Will he someday be revealed to have some role in, say, helping William Miller perfect his machine in the 20's? Or helping John Early work out the kinks in the Akro machinery? Or Howard Jenkins at Christensen Agate? Well, anyway, we know Pink was only 2 when Martin Christensen started it all rolling at MFC.

There are other questionable points. Finishing at Princeton before starting his naval career ... at age 17?

What about those numbers? Was a billion marbles a year possible with the technology of the 50's? Did he really spend $55,000 a year for the tournaments?

The clouded details in 1962 make the 1941 article all the more interesting. Four years of history would be harder to distort in a material way. So what is the truth about the factory he acquired in 37 or so? and how he converted his recycled glass to marbles?

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Pink had sort of a pretentious reputation in Sistersville. Stayed at a fancy hotel when he came in from New York and wouldn't drink the local water. And then he seems to have left under a legal cloud, something about problems with a marble packaging machine.

The cloud I presume:




(articles from Charleston, WV paper)

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As usual some of it is accurate and some may not be,especially with the dates or time frames. Started to use cullet in 1940,this was not Pinks idea alone,Alley was using cullet in Pennsboro long before 1940,even earlier at Sistersville. I know because i have seen it and written bills. Alley was in St.Marys in 1940. Vitro and other companies were also using cullet before 1940 accorinding to purchase orders or bills for cullet purchased. Alley and Pink may have had problems but became friends through business again while Alley was at Pennsboro and St.Marys. Berry Pink through orders of marbles (most for chinese checker marbles) made it possible for Alley to expand and move to a larger factory building in St.Marys. Most or all of the machines at all three locations were designed by Alley and built in the Skaggs machine shop in St.Marys and a machine shop in Pennsboro. Members of the Alley family have original blueprints for machines designed by and built for Alley. Lawerence Alley was a quiet man and wanted to remain low key unnoticed. Berry Pink may have taken or been given a lot of credit for machines and ideas that were not all his,for PR and sales. I am sure Berry Pink was a very good salesman but not sure how good a machine man or glass man he was? Berry Pink was one of,or the major PR man for marbles. You can and will find things that do not always match from articles and even county records. Anyplace any written material or records come from or who about helps fit the puzzel pieces together. The more pieces,the more accurate. Great info,always need more,never to much. Lots of puzzels to fit together.

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He is such an enigma. Seems as if you'd need an eye witness account to know what's true about him and then you still might not be sure.

His own company gets weird in their various accounts about him -- as if they don't even know what to say. I'm still having trouble with the part in AMMM where it says "a significant development came in 1963 when Roger Howdyshell [and others] bought Marble King ..." without mentioning that Pink had died in 1962. That wasn't significant ....

Eneeeway ... there is still some more old material I've read about and hope to get my hands on sometime. It should be fun.

Here are some signs of him getting busy with promotion. If you click on them you'll get larger copies, with the source info.









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  • 3 weeks later...

And in other news ...

Berry Pink didn't become "Berry" until his teens or 20's. The 1900 census listed him as Beney and in 1910 his name was given as Benjaman. So if you want to search for records of his youth, perhaps try out variations on the name Benjamin. (edit: there is a suggestion in one genealogical source that Berry might have been short for "Beryl".)

His apparent birthdate changed over the years too. One fairly certain thing is that he was a little older than his obituary indicated -- between 1 and 3 years. Not a big difference but possibly relevant to such things as military service.

The 1900 census said he was born April 1898. But the same census said his brother Louis was born May 1896, yet Louis' military records say November. Nov. 10 on one form, Nov. 4 on another. (What's up with that?)

Later censuses confuse matters further. The 1910 census implies he was born in 1898 or 1899. The 1920 census implies he was born in 1897, or maybe 1898 if his birthday was in January. The 1930 census implies he was born in 1899 or 1900. Then in 1933 he gave his birthday as Aug. 18, 1900 But by Dec. 1949, he'd lost 2 more years. He was only 47 then. Then in his obituary, he got those two years back. He died in 1962 and was 62.

His brother Irwin had name changes also, and also had birthday irregularities. So did their mother. It was as if they were in witness protection and couldn't remember the details of their new identities.

As far as employment, in 1920 Berry was a salesman for a silk company and in 1930 he was an executive for a rubber mill. At least that's what the census taker wrote down. And in 1930 it says he was a veteran but I can't make out which 'war or expedition' it says he served in. (edit: it appears to be WW, with a stray line added, and of course, WW is the one he was the right age for.)

Will return to marble-related stuff in the next post. :-)

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  • 2 weeks later...

A nice photo spread in a "Pic" magazine from July 1939. At this point Pink apparently still considers the Scripps-Howard tournament to be the national tournament. That's the one he donates a college scholarship to. He is already involved with local tournaments but they might not be named after him yet.

(click on links below to enlarge, might need to doubleclick for full size)

PicMagazine_July1939_006-1.jpg . . PicMagazine_July1939_001-1.jpg

PicMagazine_July1939_003-1.jpg . . PicMagazine_July1939_005-1.jpg





In 1941 a newspaper announcement for Pink's tournament mentions Ruth Lapham, the cutie from the last photo, in order to encourage girls to enter. But according to a Coronet magazine piece in 1946, Pink "goes white" at the thought of girls playing. Marbles had survived for ages, but a girl winning the national title might bring it all down, he says. <_<

I'll leave you to analyze the rest of the article ... or just enjoy it. ^_^

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