Sunday, March 22, 2009

Akro Agate...or did you lose your marbles?

Akro Agate traces its roots to a shoe store! Gilbert Marsh wanted marbles to sell in his shoe store...all retailers will understand the concept of the little extras at the check out...anyway, he contacted a George Rankin who helped him build marble making machinery which they installed over the shoe store in Akron, Ohio. In an interview in the early 1900s, Marsh said that they "packed marbles until one or two o'clock in the morning. We sold 25 "Glassies" for fifty cents a package in graduated sizes. Later our marble business done so well we moved into a machine shop on East Exchange Street. On March 23, 1911, we applied for the "Akro Agate" trademark and in August of the same year it was registered Their emblem is a crow...(a crow..akrow...say it with me now!)...and it stood for marbles that would "shoot straight as a crow flies."
In late 1914 the company moved to Clarksburg, WV. It had natural gas and sand, both crucial to glass making. They faced a couple lawsuits from competitors...see...nothing has changed...and decided to expand their market in the 1930s. Ashtrays were the first to come off the line, and then small containers for cold creams were next. The jar on the far right is a cold cream is kind of unique though! The lid is missing-it was a sombrero shaped top- and the company who sold the product was the Pickwick Cosmetic Corp. I believe they were in Tennessee.
In 1936, when the Westite Glass plant in Weston, WV, was destroyed by fire, "Akro" acquired all the molds, which included flower pots, planters,and vases from the Garden Line products Westite produced.
Towards the end of the 1930's "Akro" tried the Children's Dishes, but at that time with little success. When cheap Japanese imports were cut off during WWII, the Children's Dishes became a great success, and they were successful.
They do have a variety of slag glass colors in their items...this vase is in chocolate, lavenders, and green...just pretty swirls for nice accent pieces.

After the war, cheap plastics and metal toy dishes became cheaper to produce than glass and their toy production fell off, and sales of the other products fell from favor...who wants glass flower pots when plastic ones are available and will not break! So, their sales plunged dramatically. By 1949 they decided to close and stop production. They continued to sell remaining stock, but on April 24, 1951, Akro had a final auction sale and sold everything. Another American company gone...but as long as their products exist in the vintage market...not forgotten.

So, the next time you see a jar of marbles...maybe those milky aggies were from the bags sold over that shoe store in Akron, Ohio!


Just a bed of roses said...

Susan, love the "lost your marbles" are such a wealth of information on antiques I love when you do a "show and tell" each week on antiques. It adds so much value to those pieces we love, adore and collect. And love the history that ties into our lives now. I am going to do a short blog to be sure to invited people over to your blog, hope you don't mind.

Noelle Garrett Designs said...

Hi Susan,

Great post as always. My parents have jars of marbles from back in the 1930's. So fun to take them out and play. Nothing ever gets thrown. I love the cold cream jar! Thanks so much for visiting my blog, have a wonderful week!

gail said...

Hi Susan... I love marbles. I havent lost mine,,,they are in a pretty jar on my bookcase. LOL I keep putting marbles in as I get them. I even loved them as a kid. Of course my favorites were the clearies! lol I love the squirrel on your side bar... Thanks for thinking of me. :)
I am a little later than usual this week. I have had computer problems. Aaaghh1
Have a great week... (())gail

Carolee Crafts said...

I loved marbles as a child all the colours in the glass. Loved to watch the glass blowers down in cornwall, could stand for hours watching the shapes and colours emerge. Thank you for your post, as always a joy to read.

Patricia said...

I love the way you can take something rather obscure (marbles??) and make it a fun read. Can't say I ever thought about marbles as being historic. Now I have to go up into the attic (while avoiding the bats in the belfry) and put my marbles in a display container.
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings

Marie said...

Wow Susan,
That was fascinating. I love all of your posts, but this one really appealed to me. I guess it is because my marbles have been lost for a long time, and it was nice to see some for a change. Thanks so much. :O)

Cottage Flair said...

Who would have ever guessed where those marbles came from. I collected marbles as a kid and have many cigar boxes full. I wish they were marked! great post.

Kimberly said...

Very interesting, I will probably think of this info. every time I see marbles from now on. You're always so informative!

SoCal Helene said...

Hi Susan, I always love your posts! Who else would do a wonderful post about marbles.......So have spring arrived yet, I hope so!!!

Anonymous said...

You have a wonderful blog and a beautiful shop!!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was neat that the Akro auction to close the factory was on the exact date of my birth. April 24, 1951. I am one of those CMC people who has lost a few of my marbles. Can you guess who I am?