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Japanese Cat's Eye?


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There's at least one more category. The later generic Asian cat's eyes. The modern Asian cat's eyes are blah compared to the earlier Japanese ones. (imho)

(And then there are some relatively new Mexican ones which are quite pretty ... again imho. :-)

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There is not an easy answer except that the US companies did not make the 3 color, 3 vane cats'eyes nor did they make the 3 color, 6 vane cat's-eyes that are the most common ones you find in the Japanese cat's-eyes (and ones made in Taiwan, etc.). Here's pic of type of marble in bag. However, both US and Japan (and Korea & India and..) made one color cat's-eyes with various # of vanes.


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Here are some earlier Japanese cat's eyes ... distributed in little bitty boxes. Why? I don't know. Cereal premiums? Other premiums? Dimestore toys? Anyone? These are from Marblealan auctions. The first set is from one little box. The 2nd set are the marbles from 2 boxes holding 2 marbles each.


That doesn't quite capture the look I was in search of when I went browsing through my hard drive. It's close enough for a good idea but there's another box I remember from somewhere showing the colors and vane quality which I like best. I'll add it to this post if/whenever I find it.

This still isn't the package I was looking for. (I'm pretty sure it'll be a big box and the vanes will be more substantial ....) . But I think this bag is cute. It's "Hygienically Packaged". ^_^

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Still don't have the box ... but this is getting close to the look I like. I know I'm being silly. Heck you may not see the slightest bit of difference between this bag and the last one, lol, but to me the base looks cleaner, some of the colors are brighter, and the vanes are more solid. I like the translucent vanes too but I like the solid ones best. Someone who doesn't care at all about cat's eyes will throw them all away. But for me some of them stand out. Especially the turquoise ... love the turquoise! lol)

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No more from me of this type unless/until I find that box. You get the idea!

The next Japanese ones I'd hunt up pix for are the earliest 6-vane, 3-color ones. Again, the difference between the earlier ones and some of the later ones is the tendency for the earliest ones to have brighter colors and nicer base glass than the later ones. Also, some of the earliest 3-color Japanese cat's eyes had special arrangements of the colors. But that's a subject for a separate post.

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And now here some Heaton brand cat's eyes. Heaton is an American company. IMHO these look quite close to Japanese style. Some American made ones have much different looking vanes.


Here are some more Heatons, with a more wavy and imho American-looking vane.


[edit: I believe these were said to have been dug at the Heaton site, but later posts said that black cats would likely have been Bogard. Bogard bought Heaton if I recall correctly.]

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More American-made cat's eyes. These are from C. E. Bogard & Sons. A "Mountaineer Shooters" package. Photos courtesy of Nancy (pollyestr2).


I'm pretty sure they're standard size even though they say "shooters". :-)

p.s., here's a link to David Chamberlain's Bogard article at Marble Mental, ARTICLE: THOSE LOWLY BOGARD CAT'S EYES!

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Here are some modern Marble King cat's eyes. American-made. After 1990. Mine. Yes folks, I have actually taken a picture of my own marbles. :lol:


These are some Marble King cat's eyes which could be as old as the 1970's. Not a very big picture. Maybe someone else has a better one. The vane structure is roughly the same as my more modern ones, but as you can see some of the vanes are translucent.


A little closer view of another blister pack, partially filled with cats:


So far the American-made marbles I've been showing have vane shapes fairly close to some foreign styles. Some of the American-made vanes have been wavier than a lot of foreign cat's eye vanes tend to be, but they've still been more or less wide and flat.

There are more distinctive American-made cat's eye styles. Marble King and Vitro both made cat's eyes with very chubby vanes. And Vitro is famous for its cage style cat's eyes with very slender vanes. Maybe someone else will post some pix of those. They can be very photogenic.

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Here's one more Marble King example before I stand out of the way and wait for the Vitro photographs.

They're called St. Mary's cat's eyes. They were made at the original Marble King factory in St. Mary's, WV. I think the dates one these are roughly 1955 to 1958.

There were other, one-color cat's eyes made in St. Mary's too, but I wouldn't be able to tell them apart from other Marble King cat's eyes. The ones we call St. Mary's are special because their vanes have two colors (alternating, like red-blue-red-blue), or four different colors with a different color for each of the four vanes.


Funny thing about these, they came from a Tournament Assortment bag, so you might think they'd be an average mix, with mostly the most common ones, but I think these are some of the more rare colors. I'm pretty sure the most common color combo is blue/yellow, but none of those here.

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Wow Jane. They're all great. And that purple shooter choked me up a bit.

Felicia, Jane's "Japan 3 way cross thru 6 vane cats" are some of the rarest early Japanese cats. Some of the most special of the special vane arrangements.

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Y'all got me looking at my cat's eyes more carefully...lol. There's this one, looks like a star and through the magnifying glass, it looks to have only 5 vanes (vane is the color 'strip'inside?). It's sorta red/pink inside. It's like there's 3 from one and 2 from the other and they don't quite meet in the middle, but very close though.

Then there's the red, white, blue one and a blue, white, green one that seems to match the Japanese description.

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On the 6 vane question, there are cat's-eyes that have 6 vanes - some (the common ones) are in 'pairs' as you go around the marble - like 2 blue, 2 red and 2 yellow. The cross-thru types have 6 vanes but the color goes through the center so there is a blue on one side and a blue on the other (connected through the center, of course). Going around the marble (like I mentioned above), in stead of pairs you would see 1 blue, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 red and 1 yellow. Hope that doesn't confuse you - tried to make it thorough.

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With the six vane, three color cat's eyes, there are actually three variations that I know of.

The common ones have the vanes in pairs as Al said: e.g., 2 blue, 2 red, 2 yellow.

Then there's a one-way cross-thru.

With the one-way cross-thru, one vane pair is usually white. That's the pair which usually crosses through. You might have 2 blue, 1 white, 2 red, 1 white. If the cross-thru vane is something other than white, that is special.

Then comes the three-way cross-thru which Jane shows, and Al describes.

The one-ways are hard to find but not as rare as the three-ways.

This really needs pictures, but I'm pooped out with pix.

[This space reserved for pix when I find 'em, unless someone else bails us out first. :rolleyes:]


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Ohhhhhhh, ok..thank you for clarifying that Al. Ummm, so would the 2 red, 2 white, 2 blue be Japanese?

Quick answer:

Could be. Doesn't have to be. The style was carried on by other Asian manufacturers. And I think by manufacturers in other countries.

My general understanding of the general trend is that the colors started out brightest and the bases clearest in Japan. Then the colors became duller and the bases took on dingy tints as time went by. But now there are some crystal clear and super pretty ones from Vacor in Mexico.

unless I'm mistaken! lol

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Shifting back to American makers now, here's my favorite link to show anyone about Vitro cat's eyes, Anacortes Horseshoe Cat's Eye.

In that thread I asked specifically about horseshoe style cat's eyes, which are a special variation for which the Vitro plant in Anacortes, WA became famous. However, the horseshoe style was most definitely not the only cat's eye the Anacortes plant produced. There are tons of great pictures in the thread, both horseshoes and others. Some of the non-horseshoes are "cage-style" cat's eyes, with slender wiggly vanes. Some look like sort of a mix of cage-style and blade-style (imho).

(p.s., it case it's not obvious, it turns out that the cat eye I was asking about was not a Vitro. I still don't know what it is, but I'm guessing Asian.)

The Anacortes plant was in operation from 1989 to 1992, but Vitro was making cat's eyes for a long time before that. There are some cage style cats prominently featured in this super rare Gladding Vitro box from the 1970's. (These pix are from an old thread here. I do not know who originally posted them. ?? If I remember correctly it was said that only about 200 of these boxes were made, possibly distributed to store managers?)


Vitro started making chubby vaned cat's eyes in the 1950's. I'm not sure when they changed to cage style.

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What about the banana cats. Anyone have the Bogard banana cats? Most cannot seperate them from Peltier. Jack made the banana,s in colors of,orange,green,white,blue,orange/blue. I cannot remember if i saw a yellow. SLMTU posted a pic of some either here or marble mental about 1 1/2 or 2 yrs. ago. I had them for sale at Amana a couple years ago and no one would even look at them. I sent some to Leroy to polish and he got them mixed with Peltier and could not seperate them again. One sign of Bogard is the seedy glass. I don't think Jack ever got any of these on the market. I have reburied a couple tons of these while digging for Heatons at the same site.

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Felicia, before the bananas start marching out, here's a quick pic with some more "common" cat's eyes. I think these are mostly Vitro. There are several of the chubby-vaned kind, as well as some variations on the classic cage style. Some of them have a little two-color "hybrid" action going on. Probably not enough to make them valuable but a little bit of extra color for accent. The green ones have aventurine.


I don't see any with only 4 chubby vanes in this box. I must have put those somewhere else. Yeah, I remember now. Their coloring didn't blend all that well with these, so I decided they might be from a different maker, probably marble king.

I'm guessing the chubby vaned ones are from the 60's.

For the record, some of the chubby vanes meet in the middle. Some of them have a little separation, but not enough to tempt me to call them cage style cats. (Someone recently asked somewhere about whether it was the separation which made the difference between cage style and not. I don't remember who, where or how recently. lol)

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I thought you might have some of those.

When they have more than one color in the same vane they're called hybrids. (by most of us, I think)

Some people object to the use of the word "hybrid" though, because to them the term implies something more accidental. For example, at the end of a run of green marbles, and the beginning of a run of blue marbles, there might be some stripey blues and greens as the last of the green glass is flushed out.

Two-color (and sometimes more color) Vitro and Marble King cats appear consistently enough to make them seem to have been intentionally made that way.

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