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Who’s on First?

I had a great idea. It was an idea that would change the way the accounting and economics professions would look at the value and accounting of tangible assets. I knew I would be published in Harvard Review and in the Journal of Economics. Boy, was I excited. I went to the internet to do a search. I was very surprised to find that a “kid” had the idea before me. I never met this “kid”, but if I do, he is going to get it for stealing MY idea. His name? – Aristotle.

How many great ideas, turn out to be old ideas others have long had?

JABO is prime breeding ground for ideas. People are attracted to the factory and they come from all walks of life. Glass makers, marble makers, collectors and people who are just fascinated at seeing a marble factory in operation are all welcomed at JABO. But, it did not begin here.

As a young man, just starting out in the glass industry, David’s charisma, intelligence, and hard work were his ticket into the inner circle of marble makers in West Virginia. Don Michels, Roger Howdyshell, and Louis Moore shared their thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. This, along with his day-to-day efforts working with marbles, formed his early career.

David likes talking about marbles and ideas on how to make better marbles. He listens carefully to everyone who says anything. And he thinks long and hard about how to make something work. The big chunks of aventurine in his kitchen window attest to that. They are his talisman of the happy memory of his first experiment with mica and aventurine in 1997 when he made the DT Special. For ten years, he saw these daily and they reminded him of 1997 and were a cue to keep thinking about how to do it better. The pieces all came together on November 27, 2007 when he got his first opaque oxblood and March of 2008 when he ran the Sammy’s Sparkle Run which were the beginning of his great aventurines, micas and oxbloods of 2008.

When Patrons of the Arts see their marbles come down the rollers and fall into the buckets at the end, ideas abound. How to get more colors; how to get prettier colors; how to add aventurine; how to create better patterns; all of these thoughts come into play. If an idea is told to David, his response will always be, “Well, let’s try it and see if it works. It will be interesting to see how to do that. I can learn something here.”

He already knows the outcome but two things are happening here. First of all, in David’s JABO Renaissance, we equated David to an Art teacher who encourages his students to try new things. Secondly, every once in a while the idea will move his thought process ahead. With his experience and a few changes, he will make the experiment work or he will see where he needs to adjust his idea.

From complexity comes simplicity, David became an instant overnight success during the Tribute Last Dance Run and then again in the Tribute to Friendship Run. After thirty years, he figured out how to make a more complex pattern that goes all over the marble. It worked! Just look at the Last Dance or Tribute to Friendship marbles.

I called David after the Last Dance Run to discuss with him my idea for preventing the pressure created when adding another color to the surface of the marbles. His response was typical.

“We’ve been closed for three days. Don’t you think Richard and I have already done that?”

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This happens a lot. It happened in my field of study more than once. I do remember that Charles Darwin and another fellow were studying the same sorts of things and arrived at the idea of "natural selection" independently. Darwin published his idea not knowing that someone else had come up with the same idea. Today, Darwin is known for having that bright idea and I can't remember the name of the other fellow. Having the idea and acting on it are both important. Probably very few people can recall the other scientists name. Edna

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It bothered me that I couldn't remember the other scientist's name, so I did some research. It was Herbert Spencer who independently came up with the same idea that Charles Darwin did. In fact, Spencer was the first to use the term "survival of the fittest". Darwin published and Spencer did not. Darwin got credit for the idea.

It seems that someone else was thinking about making marbles and maybe had been thinking about it for a long time. However, Steve Sturtz met with David McCullough and Joanne Argabrite and suggested that they "timeshare" the machines. Steve got credit for the idea. Unsolicited, David McCullough sent a letter of provenance and asked Bocci to post it on his board. David thought the letter would settle the discussion, but it didn't.

A letter from Dave McCullough concerning the 2008 private runs...


Just so you have the story right on the 2008 experimental I felt that you

should have the first post .

Joanne Argabrite, Steve Sturtz and myself ( Dave

McCullough) had a meeting concerning Mike Johnson and Steve Sturtz's book on Jabo

in late 2007. Jabo had already decided that due to the economics of producing

Classics that the Company would not be making any in 2008. Mr Sturtz mentioned the

possibility of time sharing the machines with investors putting up the cost of

runs. This was the beginning of the 2008 experimental runs.

The rest is documented history now with the last experimental run being done, as

agreed to earlier in the year, with the group of investors that has been


I hope all have had some joy out of being a part of Marble History and once Jabo

has a chance to decide the future of the Classics I will let you know. At this

time there will be no more contract runs. Jabo is in the process of looking into

a 24hr. run of each 5/8" 3/4" and 1" Classics for 2009 and would hope to sell

them from the Co. through a group of sales persons who had invested in the 2008

experimentals. Hope this might help to understand the process Jabo has been

going through.

I would like to thank ALL the investors for the great times I have had in

producing these runs and Hope that all has some good memories.

Thank You


Dave had hoped his letter would settle once and for all who started the runs. Instead, it caused some people to make up more lies because their feelings are hurt? they are jealous? they want credit? they are greedy? I don't know the reason. All is speculation on that matter. I am speaking only for myself now. I am tired of the whole mess. Lies about Steve stealing marbles, stealing a collection, and now threats to expose stealing something else. Several people have had to apologize for their lies, but some still believe the lies. Steve's reputation has been forever tarnished because of the lies that slowly over time have all been proven wrong. It is sickening to me!

The fact is that Steve acted on his idea. He got credit for the idea. Steve did not know anybody else was having the same idea, but Steve is attacked for it. None of the lies belonged on the chatboards, but I'm afraid we are about to see more of the same. How much does one person deserve? The people who are telling the lies don't even have the guts to do it under their own name. How cowardly is that? I do have to respect Galen Wilcox because he did make the accusations under his own name, even though they turned out to be false. I am certain that somebody told Galen some lies that he believed and acted on. It's all very sad to me.

The "why" of the attacks is puzzlling to me. Is it greed, avarice, jealousy, or something else? We may never know, but I do know I'm tired of it. Stop the email attacks and threats on Steve. They won't work and may result in court action if they continue. Libel is serious.

Marbles used to be fun. This is not fun. We used to all enjoy talking to each other on the chat boards and in the chat room. I don't enjoy that any more. People who post feel that they always have to be careful and cover their backs. By the way, this post has also been unsolicited. I hope I haven't hurt my friends.

If the chat board isn't fun, people don't come back. Is that why we've lost so many of the people who used to hang out here and have fun here? I never remember attacks like these recent happenings going on before.

I want marbles and talking about marbles to be fun again. Can we make that happen?


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Alfred Russell Wallace was a student of Darwin's and actually came up with the concept of natural selection being the guiding force of evolution. Darwin stole the idea from Wallace and published it before Wallace came into prominence. Anyone interested shoud read "The Song of the Dodo:

Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions" by David Quammen.


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