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Akro Vs. Mfc Timeline -- Who Made The First White Onyx?


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I'm kinda excited. I found an Akro ad last night which has given me a bit of a shock.

Is it possible that straight out of the gate, Akro made more marble styles than M.F. Christensen?

This Akro ad is from the December 1914 Playthings catalog. It might be the first Akro ad with a Clarksburg address. The MFC ad supposedly reflects their line from 1911 through most of 1915. 8 colors for Akro. 6 for MFC. (the nat'l onyx entry covers brown and green) Michael Cohill's MFC book says they introduced their White Onyx on Sept. 12, 1915 in response to competition from Akro.

So it sounds as if Akro had a white onyx before MFC. ??

(click to enlarge)

1914_12_ClarksburgAkro_Plaything-2.jpg . . . . . MFCBooklet_TheirLine-2.jpg

With all the time and effort Akro had to put into absconding to Clarksburg and trying to develop a working machine which was different enough from MFC's to get them a legally recognized patent, how would they have had time to invent a new marble type? Horace Hill was no expert, so how would he have come up with these things? Did he have expert help?

Bonus question: Who would have made the yellows in this Akro box with the Akron address? And when? It doesn't seem as if they were a regular production item of MFC's, but if that's Akro's yellow, then why would it be in an Akron box? Could Hill have taken their yellow output when it was still in the experimental stage?

(click to enlarge)


Some background for reference if anyone needs it:

Primary source is Michael Cohill's, M.F. Christensen and the Perfect Glass Ball Machine.

Akro's marble machines were based on designs stolen from MFC by Horace Hill. Akro purchased their first marbles from MFC in 1911. Hill began embezzling from MFC and cooking their books in Feb. 1912. In Sept. 1912 Hill applied for a patent on a marble machine. His application was denied because it was too similar to Christensen's. Though no purchases are recorded after Feb. 1912, Akro continued to have enough MFC marbles to sell until their move to Clarksburg in 1914. Hill's embezzlement was first discovered in February of 1913 when a client wrote to say they'd overpaid but no record of any payment could be found. Hill was allowed to make restitution and stay with the company. His embezzlement continued, again unnoticed. In August 1913 he resigned on good enough terms that he was given a small bonus. He took with him MFC's client list and glass formulas. Unknown to the Christensens, he went to work at Akro, and started scouting for a new location for the company. Clarksburg was chosen for the new factory. Hill finally tweaked Christensen's designs enough to secure his own patent. And Akro Agate was in production by the Fall of 1914.

Hill's design was flawed and would have had a high rejection rate but it was close enough to MFC's and it was faster than MFC's. Akro quickly became a serious threat. In Oct. 1914, Martin Christensen discovered that Akro was underbidding him with his best clients.

It turns out that MFC still did very well in 1915 but they had to hustle. They lowered prices, gave volume discounts and decided to expand their line. Their first new marble was the White Onyx, which was introduced in September. Martin died in October. His son Charles took the helm. 1916 was a stellar year, with the help of a new Purple Onyx and more incentives to their better customers. MFC still had a worldwide clientele. 1917 looked promising too, until the U.S. entered the war. The war and a harsh winter created a natural gas shortage. MFC had to turn off their furnaces on December 10. No more marbles were made but they had a massive inventory on hand and they continued to fill U.S. orders into 1919.

Before 1911, MFC's line had 7 marbles. The style they dropped was the Imperial Jade, a lighter green than the Oriental Jade. They had other types which were made on a limited basis. Some of those weren't marketed. The Moss Agate is one of their rare marbles; it was made throughout the life of the company but in small numbers. The Blood Agate seems to be a variation on the Moss Agate -- also very rare. Their opaque Lavender was produced for only two days: on Nov. 19th and 20th of 1917. Other marbles described as experimental or limited production: translucent bluish green, opaque green Cornelian-like, dark brown onyx, translucent cerulean blue, opaque cerulean blue, clear with Cornelian (oxblood) swirls, clear with translucent cerulean blue swirls, and non-fluorescing opaque yellow.

So if MFC sold their opaque yellow, when would that have been?

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