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Best ( Most Convincing ) Marble Ballast Story I've Seen


Steph
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Whether marbles were useful as ballast, it sounds as if they were at times legally considered ballast. When I think of all the red tape and technicalities and loopholes in customs and commerce laws, it's not too hard to believe.

(click to enlarge)

1955_01_24_MarblesFromJapan_Vitro_4.jpg

Marbles-as-ballast stories were around in the 1800's also and have always intrigued me! LOL

But I do like this article for another obvious reason -- the Japanese cat's eye story and how that affected the marble industry in America. The ballast story the article tells struck me as reasonable in part because the article's overall tone is so calm in comparison with some of the other things published about the marble industry that year. The employment figures it gives seem credible, in contrast with an article written by controversial labor columnist Victor Reisel.

From January through April there was a flurry of news in connection with a reciprocal trade agreement with Japan. Spokespeople such as Clinton Israel and Roger Howdyshell spoke in favor of an increased tariff on marbles to protect the industry from inequitable Japanese business practices. The concensus of the marble industry seemed to be that they would have to close their doors on July 1 if they didn't get their tariff on Japanese imports.

The dilemma for Congress was balancing U.S. industries' needs with the perceived need to nurture Japan's economic recovery so that Japan wouldn't accept trade incentives from Russia and its allies.

The trade agreement was passed in May; the marble tariff amendment was voted down.

And then in late July Reisel's article ran, declaring that the marble industry was gone. He said that as he typed, it employed only 10 people, and those 10 would be laid off by the time his article went to print.

I know there were severe challenges but obviously the industry didn't completely shut down. Apparently Reisel didn't call anyone to check on the status of the industry between when he first talked to Howdyshell and July. He simply said the industry was gone, and used that as a symbol of what could happen in other American industries.

A couple of other dates of interest: Howdyshell claimed in a 1986 interview that Marble King got started in cat's eyes in June 1955. The Vitro book says that Fisher debuted their cat's eye in Sept. 1954. If I understand correctly Vitro's clearie line was also popular and they hit gold again in 1959 with All-Reds.

Side note about Reisel ... the next year he was blinded by someone who didn't like his writing -- they threw acid in his face. He kept writing.

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IMHO there is no way marbles were ever used as a Ballast in ships. For one thing the ships in 1955 were not built in a way that marbles would be a ballast. As part of the contents of the hold (yes) which helped act as ballast. I think this is the basis of the old stories also. The marbles being heavier than say cloth foods ect were probably placed lower in the hold than lighter material. Therefor folks thought ballast when seen coming out late as goods were removed from the ship. . That simple!! And the story tellers were probably the same folks telling who invented the first marble machines (LOL) GWW

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Not used as ballast. Claimed as ballast.

Loophole.

Reading about how Hong Kong got into the marble making business I got the strong though unconfirmed feeling that Japan was trying to launder marbles through Hong Kong to get around Britain's tariffs on non-commonwealth goods. It was awkward and one of the inducements for Hong Kong to go into the marble business themselves. Or that's the feeling I got from the portion of the article I could read about the marble industry in Hong Kong.

If marbles were shipped as so-called ballast in the 1800's as claimed - not saying they were - but if they were, maybe it was to escape the high tariff on toys. I don't know the 1800's tariff(s) on toys off hand. Or what the tariffs may have been on toys from Japan before the reciprocal trade agreement. But in 1909, the tariff on toy marbles was 35%. I know that because someone tried to escape it by calling their marbles "unset precious stones". That would have gotten them through with only a 10% tax. They didn't get away with it. (article)

In 1875, the tax might have been 50% on children's toys. That's what it sounded like in a case regarding glass balls for Christmas trees. The decision hinged on whether they were beads or toys.

There was lots of haggling over the letter and the spirit of the customs laws. The stakes were high. I think customs tried to force Marble King to pay a toy tax on their marble bags ... maybe the cloth ones from Japan. But I believe this one Marble King won. The bag might have been fun but the ruling was that it was still packaging, not a toy. iiuc.

We just heard about a modern-day case of someone hoping to semanticize themselves out of a hefty tax. Pringles in England. 0% tax on "foodstuffs" or Britain's 17.5% (now 15%) tax on "potato chips"? Well, naturally Proctor and Gamble fought for 0% and England's dept. of revenue fought for the other. P&G won last year but just lost on appeal. That's millions of dollars per year. Every million counts, right?

It does sound sorta fishy that people wouldn't recognize toy marbles for what they were and charge appropriate fees in 1950 but the claim was made pretty loudly. And the general marble import situation at least was debated in Congress. The U.S. government was intent on playing nicey nice with Japan. Maybe they did let them get away with it.

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have either of you been on a ship and know what ballast is? this along with many posts in the last few days is plain silly and is really a waste of space....why not post something of worth instead of this crap.....

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Sorry, just trying to get more accurate crap posted(LOL) Been through over 30 ships Duffy. From Wooden schooners The U.S.S. Constitution to Freighters New and old, Submarines and even 2 Aircraft Carriers. Hornet and Enterprise. Studied ships and shipping quite a bit. I have had a fasination with ships(and shipwrecks) for quite a while. Probably since moving to Brazil on a Passenger carrying Freighter in the 50s. (marbles are just a part of my hobbies) GWW

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No Duffy I haven't been on many ships. I live 6 blocks from Lake Michigan in a shipbuilding town so I might be able to bluff it, but no I don't know a lot about ballast.

But this thread was exactly not about the proper use of ballast. It was about people claiming things were ballast as a legal loophole. Huge difference. General ignorance could be what let 'em get away with it. How many people have been able to smuggle stuff because the laws and the officials were dense?

Anyway I knew at least one other person besides myself was interested in the facts of the ballast story. It's part of marble history.

I don't bust in on your threads and call 'em crap. The opposite is true. I mostly try to stay out of your threads. I posted in a couple last month but I was respectful. In private I defend the jabo posting to my friends who don't like either that or my historical trivia. LOL My vintage collector friends acknowledge that we all have a right to post but they still feel like the Jabo threads are using up all the oxygen in the room.

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Derrick, this is the kind of thing which S-F doesn't have to put up with.

This is what I referred to when I stood up for Lou for trying to do something about chronically negative voices.

If you agree with Duffy then start something you consider a worthwhile thread. You dropped in to criticize. Not to be part of a solution. You reserve your best for other places. Here you criticize and stir things up. Then when things have hit fever pitch you can say how nothing has changed and this board is as contentious as ever.

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i didnt bust into your thread...its in a public forum so its free for anyone to post....a legal loophole???sound bussiness practice i would call it...thats why hodyshell wanted a tarrif...low shipping cost was what it was...common sense...not earth shattering ...just trivial and mundane common knowledge...you got your own forum....why not post it there or cant you find room at the top not pinned???...why oh why did you desert your jabo friends...got enough free marbles???

galen..haint them walk thru tours awesome???on them subs those bulkheads hatches are so tight its amazing a man with a regular size head can get thru em.....some of them big ships are something....the buffets are neverending and those elvis impersonators are the hoot!!!!lolol just kiddin...dont blow a gasket!!!!

there ive retaped my head...it was just a small explosion...

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for the record steph youve posted over 5300 times and ive posted over 550 times and im member #19 and youre # 279 .......ive hardly busted into your threads...i wouldnt have the free time...or the inclination...surel;y there isnt that much new-- earth shattering- hold the presses--info available....im just sayin...some things are better done in private...or study hall...

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I read what interests me and skip things that don't. I enjoyed the ballast thread. No need for all the negativity. Again, (for the 100th time - not really, just trying to be funny) if it irritates you or you have no interest -DON'T READ! We're all tired of the negativity. Edna

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Steve... I don't get it.... I'm really surprised at your reaction, considering your location and the stuff you've been doing lately....

Here we have a situation where folks are doin' the pony-up to keep Jabo alive and someone has gone through the hours of research to come up with an article that cronicles some of the reasons this is a necessity....

It may not be Earth shattering info, but heck, it's relevant to what's goin' on. I thought it was kind've a cool window into how history has repeated itself over and over and we haven't gotten smart yet...

Maybe if you folks in WV (and around the country) would rally up in the memory of Dear Mrs. Dye, there'd be less unemployment there??

54 years later, how many companies now?? How many employees?? Hello??

Until our threads are rolling off the page 2 or 3 times daily, I don't see any reason why anyone needs to be rude about anyone posting anything.... But honestly, I thought this article was VERY relevant to what's going on in our hobby today....

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didn't mean to equate smuggling and claiming something as ballast. just highlighting the potential for disconnect between the law and reality.

And sure as heck wasn't saying Howdyshell was doing or trying to do anything improper. Again, highlighting the stakes.

If you could within the law call something ballast and get out of paying taxes, then you would. If someone else was getting off too easy because he was doing that when you didn't think he should, then you'd try to change the law so he couldn't do it anymore.

well, that's all my speculating for now. Maybe I'll hop over to the maritime museum in my local harbor and ask 'em what they know about how ballast was legally defined over the years. Or maybe I'll ask at the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. :-)

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i dont think they was smuggling marbles they put em in the ballast hold at cheap transport....its prob less caustic than sea water...then theres the fresh water ballast then the fuel ballast then the other kinda things that could be put in there..ballast could be anything.did ya see that ship that the pirates took off africa...all those containers on deck...wonder what kinda ballast they had to keep the ship from flipping over???id bet theyd be happy to have a few 100 tons of marbles to keep her upright.......sue it just takes a little common sense to get along...edna...if i ommitted all the earth shattering posts id have nothing to read...you was kinda sorta negative towards me....lololol....juust kiddin....

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Steve;

First off there was no reason to post in this thread if all you were going to do was bitch.

Second off, the thread wasn't about JABO, so that is good, right?

Third off, I didn't die and leave anybody boss, so let me do the moderating. I don't need a posse.

Lou

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right on lou...just tryin to keep it sensible...if ya dont know what ballast is how can you be an expert on it....thats how corfusion starts and fallicy become fact...i apolige if i got a little negitive but marbles really haint that complicated..now would somebody id those marbles for me i put in the id forum...

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