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Jabo 1' Run Article From The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Ohio marble maker to make final run


The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) -- David McCullough will say a little prayer early Monday, fire up a massive gas furnace for perhaps the last time and do what he does best - produce pretty marbles.

McCullough may have to work his magic on the furnace, which has sat idle for months in Jabo Inc.'s tiny factory near Marietta. Jabo is the last marble maker in Ohio. McCullough hopes to produce up to 120,000 one-inch marbles for a group of collectors from across the United States and Canada.

McCullough, a retired marble master, will do the job for free. The collectors put up the money to run the beat-up furnace for one last time.

"The furnace is badly in need of repair, and the repairs are far too expensive," he said. "Actually, I don't even know if it can be repaired. I gave up on it more than a year ago. But I think I can coax one more run out of it."

In the first half of the 20th century, Ohio was the marble-producing capital of the world, with dozens of companies making millions of marbles for schoolchildren. But children don't play with marbles much anymore. Besides Jabo, there is only one other marble factory in the United States, in West Virginia.

McCullough said Jabo has been for sale for several years. He said it mostly produces industrial marbles for use in spray paint cans, oil wells and water purification equipment. It's rare that he gets to create marbles that people will see.

"We just can't afford it," he said. "But every now and then, collectors pay us to make a run. They give us the money to buy the glass, which now costs a fortune, and we do it."

Steve Sturtz, a marble collector from Kingston, Ontario, who has written several books on the subject, is happy they do. He is one of several dozen collectors who will be at the Jabo plant to watch the molten marbles roll out of the furnace and take on different colors as they cool.

"No one makes marbles like David," Sturtz said. "He's an artist. His colors are incredible; he does things with marbles that no one else can do. We're just excited that he's going to make a one-inch run for us."

Many people call McCullough a genius and an artist, notions he just laughs off.

"The perception is better than the reality," McCullough said. "I just dump colors and other things into a vat of molten glass and hope pretty marbles come out. It's a lot of guesswork, and I am often surprised."

The collectors will watch the glass heated in a 2,200-degree furnace. The red-hot liquid glass will drip from the end of the furnace onto a series of rolling coils, where it is shaped into perfect spheres.

The marbles quickly cool to 1,800 degrees as they solidify and roll into catch buckets. The buckets are dumped into 6-foot-square crates, which are set in the warehouse to cool for 72 hours.

McCullough adds chemicals to the soupy, molten mass and watches what comes out. The color and pattern on each marble is always different and totally unpredictable. He said that when he tries to create a pattern, he fails. The marbles come out the way they want, he said, and like snowflakes, no two are alike.

The marbles that will be made Monday will be much larger than the typical marble. In the old days, these marbles would be called shooters. Because they are so much larger, only one of the company's furnaces, or kilns, can handle the job. They will be the first shooters Jabo has made since 2007, the last time the furnace was used.

McCullough said the marbles could sell for $10 each. But some, deemed special by collectors, will sell for even more.

Sturtz said some of McCullough's creations sell for $100 each to collectors.

McCullough is embarrassed by the attention.

"I like the collectors," he said. "I wish marbles were used by kids, like they used to. I still want to see the kids play with them; that makes me feel good. I like giving kids bags of marbles and watching their faces light up."


Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com

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The Akron Toy Company

The S.C. Dyke & Co.

Dyke's Stoneware Specialty Co.

American Marble and toy Manufacturing Co.

The East End Marble Co.

Limaville Terracotta works.

The Mishler Brothers Terracotta Works

The Standard Toy Marble Co.

The Albright and Lightcap Co.

The Akron Stone Marble Co.

The Akron Insulator and Marble Co.

The J.H. Leighton & Co.

The Navarre Glass marble and Specialty Co.

The J.E. Albright Co.

The American Glass Marble Co.

The American Marble Co.

The National Marbles and Specialty Co.

The M.F. Christensen & Son Co.

The Barberton Glass Novelty Co.

Standard Clay and Glass Products Co.

The Akro Agate Co. yes was located in WV - but was started and owned by Ohio residents. Was an Ohio registered Corporation as well.

The Shadyside Glass Novelty Co.

The Christensen Agate Co.

M.A. Knight Co.


Looks like dozens to me technically. There is probably a company or two that I am missing as well.

I guarantee that there were still more marbles produced in Ohio.....clay, glass, and stone. You are talking continuous production from the 1880's till present day. Toy and industrial.

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Let me jus list our marble accomplishments.



ah ha

1. Atlanta Civil War Marble Company

...currently under management by Atanta Waste Water Treatment

2.Georgia Marble company

....one of the largest and oldest marble festivals in the country right here in Pickens County


I'll get back to ya.


Brian! lill help?

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I missed something again,i thought the article said first half of the 20th century. I am sure that i have missed many of those companies marbles but i have trouble finding them or identifing them. To technical for me. I cannot keep up with the glass ones. Marbles are taking a way too much of my time the way it is. When it is work,arguments,and not fun,i have other priorities.

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I think because any repairs that might be done would be prohibitive and border on basically taking it down(I mean down to basics) and starting all over again. So, there are times when you go with what you have and hope for the best that the ol' parts don't cave in or give out because those furnaces are put under tremendous pressures. That's my top of the head thoughts on the situation in general. I wouldn't be surprised though if they didn't tweak it here and there. David

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It's cool when there's an article almost no matter what's in it. I'm used to embellishment. I'd be surprised if there weren't any.

Do you know how many people invented the marble machine according to newspapers? Pert near everyone EXCEPT Dave McCullough. lol

And to be the Ohio news of the day in USA Today? :music-rocker-001:

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i know they rebuilt one....it was the one that faces east by itself...the others all face north....it takes em awhile to do it...it quite an impressive operation...lots of hard-heavy work....i go down a couple times a month and prob be there tomorrow and i ask richard or ronnie....

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