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" Common Knowledge" About First Cat's Eyes


Steph
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I thought Bananas were first too. But perhaps we need to more clearly define Cat's Eyes because I have also heard the term applied to the single-vane Masters, some of which I think were also quite early.

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There is some great paperwork and drawings from a trip Sellers Peltier made to Japan to look at how they made cat eyes. The drawings of what he observed at the factory drawn later on Hotel stationary are amazing. He must have had a near photographic memory. Wish I remembered the dates of the trip?

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There is a 1955 Sports Illustrated article with Japanese Cat's Eyes. And there are some funky marbles identified as being Cat's Eyes, which aren't identified by country, which I've seen discussed several times without resolution. (link) The marbles pictured in the article were said to be from the collections of Sellers Peltier and Berry Pink.

Heaton has in the past been given credit as being first. That's the version of events Marblealan reported. I just wondered where the story came from to begin with.

Vitro and MK started making cat's eyes in response to Japan's. But Vitro has been given credit with starting in 1954, while Marble King and Peltier are said to have begun in 1955. So I wonder where the 1954 date comes from for Vitro. I can't remember seeing it in ads. Also, the 1955 SI article might even imply that Vitro had not sold their cat's eyes yet, since the caption for the Japanese Cat's Eyes reads, "JAPANESE CAT's EYES, now being imported in millions, are threat to U.S. marble industry. Different and more colorful than today's U.S. marbles, they are a big hit with kids." Why were Vitro's cat's eyes excluded? Professional rivalry? Or because they weren't available yet?

Since supposedly MK and Peltier both came out with theirs after Vitro, I hadn't worried much about whether MK beat Peliter or not. But if Vitro didn't really come out with them in 1954, then naturally I'll be curious about who hit the market first between all three.

So, worldwide, Japan seems to have made the first international splash, though some think Vacor may have started making them in 1944 for local markets, which would put them before Japan.

And in the U.S., Heaton was once given credit with being first, but last I heard, Vitro was. And now I'm wondering about why the story was ever believed about Heaton, and where the 1954 date came from for Vitro. Is it possible that MK or Peltier actually started before Vitro?

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Unfortunately, I don't have scans of all the correspondence, but as I almost remember, I think Sellers Peltier, or maybe his son, visited the marble factory in Japan in 1953, and the detailed sketches, drawn immediately after the factory tour, were on stationery from a hotel in Kyoto.

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Vacor's claim was this, "En 1944, comenzamos a fabricar la popular canica "Trébol" e incrementamos nuestra capacidad sustancialmente para cubrir los mercados locales de México."

"Trébol" translates to Shamrock ... whatever that would mean for a marble.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just reading Alan's old Vacor page and it sounds like Vacor may have used "Trébol" for their modern cat's eye's ... whatever it meant in 1944 ... if indeed the history found at the Vacor site was accurate about making Trébols in 1944.

Still hoping to find out where the info about Vitro making cats in 1954 came about. Not yet hoping hard enough to write the book authors who gave that date. But thinking about it. That's probably what I should do, eh?

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Last night I revisited Castle & Peterson's book on cat's-eyes, and the only date they use for the beginning of American-produced cat's-eyes is 1955. FWIW.

But of course the book is old now.

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