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Champion Furnace Swirls -- What's The Story?


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Steph, here's the skinny on the furnace marbles as I know it. About 20 years ago Ralph Needs from Grove City Ohio had a booth at Traders World flea market near Monroe Ohio. Ralph sold candles, towels, and marbles in bulk. (both inside and outside) The marbles were mostly Vacor and other new marbles. Ralph also junked and cleaned out buildings for xtra cash. One day at my Turtle Creek flea market booth, Ralph came up and introduced himself to me and said someone had told him to come and see me to get an estimate on the value of some old marbles he had come across. The marbles were old but not worth much. Ralph got to talking and said he had some plastic bags and hard plastic containers from Vitro Agate and wanted to know if I wanted some. I bought some of each. About 2 or 3 months later Ralph came by with a large bag of the furnace marbles and I stupidly passed on them. Next weekend Jerry my brother came in the booth and had a small Vitro Agate bag (3X5 (clear no text) heavy mill plastic bag) of the Champion furnace marbles and wanted my opinion. I told him they were neat but new and I didn't want any of them (another mistake on my behalf) Jerry said Ralph had about 3/4ths of a box (50 pound box) of these and he was going to buy them as Ralph was holding them for him and a lot of them were cracked but he felt he could do all right trading them. He left and a couple of weeks later I called him and the talk got around to the Furnace marbles. Jerry said he went back to Ralph's market to buy the marbles but Ralph had sold them to Brent. (Brian E's friend, both in columbus) Jerry was upset with Brent for talking Ralph into selling the furnace marbles to him. I told Jerry that's the way the business world operates, when you snooze you lose. On that particular subject matter, my brother and I were both big losers. LOL, LOL, Ronnie

Edited by Steph
fixing spacing, thx.
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Now that sissydear mentioned it, it could be that Ralph got the marbles from Dave. Ralph never said he got them at Champion, he just said they were a different marble. I don't recall the ones I looked at having the infamous butt crack but back then I wasn't that interested and didn't pay much attention to them. I only know Ralph sold and bought marbles in bulk. Ronnie

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Ask David McCullough and you'll get the truth.

Sissydear, I thought Dave Mc was out of champion by that time.

lstmmrbls, on 07 Jan 2014 - 09:56 AM, said:

Dan, please share your info. It was my understanding that The Wissmach glass was used one time. I have had large groups from the one run(cleanout?) that I know about and the true "Furnace Marbles" I know of are from.

Hi Galen, my info comes from the book American machine made marbles in the champion section. I am out of town right now or I would quote it and post the pages I have printed out. To paraphrase it says that in 1994 - 1995 they would clean out the tanks with wismach glass every few months. So my thinking is that the diffenent cleanouts is what produced the several of the different types. Not sure but would like to hear more thoughts.

I do not believe the marbles posted in this thread are furnace.

Maybe we should start this discussion somewhere else.

DAN

Does anyone disagree with the info in the American Machine Made Marbles book? The furnace marbles are discussed in the champion section.

From what I heard the author did a pretty through job interviewing the right people.

DAN

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Here is a post from 2002 by Ron Shepherd's ex, who was also very involved with marbles and the boards back then:

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Posted by Paula Shepherd on Alan's Board - June 23, 2003 (from WVMCC website):

On November 22, 2002, I had a phone conversation with Dave McCullough (former manager at Champion Agate and currently Vice-President of JABO-Vitro) According to McCullough, Champion furnace marbles were made in the mid-1990's. He said that Roger Jones, who was a very knowledgeable glassman used Wizmach glass to wash out the tanks when changing runs. Located in Paden City, West Virginia, Wizmack makes plate and cathedral glass. This plate glass was not compatible with the glass in the tanks at Champion and that is why it was used to wash out the tanks - this incompatibility is also why nearly all of the furnace marbles have internal fractures. McCullough told me that, according to Jones, Wizmack glass was run once or twice a month in the mid-1990's and that there would have been 5 or 6 buckets full of marbles each time - making the total number of furnace marbles well over 6,000. He also said that Jones told him that the yellow glass cleaned out the tanks best. This most likely explains why we see more yellow furnace marbles than other colors. (Note; According to Dave McCullough, Mr. Jones passed away in 1996 or 1997)

Paula

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Thanks Al. The above still holds true as well as i know. Champion gave away most of the marbles to employees or good customers. They had no plans of selling them because of the fratcures. Most were fractured but some were not. The wash out or scrapping of the tank did not work out as well as thought over time. Dale simmons has some of the Champion furnace marble cullet. Sammy Hogue was lucky to receive a few gallons of these from a Champion employee at the time they were made. He was told to hold onto them as they may have some value someday. Many of the later furnace run marbles did not have the numbers of fractures as the earlier runs had.

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The Champion furnace marbles would not have the infamous Jabo butt crack pattern. This is one Jabo trait for lots of Jabo Classics not Champion or Dave McCullogh. Dave was at Jabo not at Champion when the furnace marbles were made. The butt crack trait is caused by a short glass stream length from the tank to the shear. You will also find the same pattern with Cairo Novelty and many Alleys from his later years at the St.Marys location.

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I mentioned Dave McCullough, not because he was at Champion at the time, (he was not), but because he knows the story. Just like Ron Shepherd. Dave lives in Pennsboro and he knows the marbles and all the stories. maybe I shouldn't have mentioned such a "controversial" person. Sarcasm is intended.

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