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Marbles Still Attract Children and Collectors

As I put my little grandson’s winter coat on him the other day, I checked his pocket and discovered two marbles, one big (shooter size) and the other smaller. Both looked like vintage cat’s eye models.

It seems marbles remain treasured by little boys today. And why not! These pretty little glass globes are sought after and saved by marble collectors of all ages, all over the world.

Undoubtedly the best-known name in marbles around here is Marble King, a West Virginia company with a history that goes all the way back to the heyday of Mountain State glass in the 1930s.

According to the company website, Berry Pink and Sellers Peltier founded Marble King in 1949 after the two marble pioneers worked for a decade or more producing and pushing marbles to the public.

Pink was a successful businessman and loved to interact with children. Peltier Glass manufactured the marbles in the 1930s and early 1940s and by the late 1940s, Pink was selling more marbles than Peltier could produce.

The two marble men joined forces and formed another manufacturing facility in which Pink held the majority of shares.

Berry Pink traveled throughout the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away several marbles at each stop. He became known as “The Marble King” and that’s how the company got its name. It was officially founded in December 1949.

The distinctive logo shows a red and black marble with a crown on its animated head. Marble King was originally located in St. Marys, W.Va. but after a 1958 fire destroyed the factory, then manager, Roger Howdyshell, moved the company to Paden City where it remains today.

Howdyshell was an innovative man who left his mark on the marble industry in lots of ways. He led Marble King to the forefront when he manufactured the first American made Cat’s Eye marbles.

He also developed a process called “veneering” marbles. In this process, you could use less expensive glass as base glass and put a thin coating on the exterior surface to give the marble color.

In 1983, Roger Howdyshell bought Marble King. He had dedicated his life to the industry and truly loved it, according to the website, and he continued to operate the facility until his death in 1991.

Today, Marble King continues to be owned and operated by the Howdyshell family.

Marble King marbles are used in marble games, board games, decorative vases, spray paint cans and other industrial applications. These West Virginia-made marbles have been featured in movies like “Goonies,” “Hook” and “Home Alone.”

Visit marblecollecting.com for details and advice on how to grade and ID marbles.

For comments or suggestions on local treasures that you are interested in seeing featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at: zambitomaureen@hotmail.com or by writing in care of the Sunday News-Register, 1500 Main St., Wheeling, WV 26003.

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