ABOUT THE COMPANIES
Glass Marble Industries Involved with M.F. Christensen's Canadian Patent
M.F. CHRISTENSEN & SON
M.F. Christensen & Son company opened their doors in 1903 after M.F. Christensen & Harvey Leighton's experiments with M.F.C.'s machine were successful. They tested the first machines at the Navarre Glass Marble & Specialty Company.
M.F. Christensen debated on opening a factory of his own or selling the patent outright for money. Realizing the profit potential, he chose to begin manufacturing marbles. Although most of the business was to industrial suppliers and selling wholesale, eventually the profits started to come in.
On October 24th, 1905, M.F. Christensen received his patents (U.S & Canadian) for the world's 1st glass marble manufacturing machine. No longer were glass marbles extremely expensive for families.
M.F. C. & Son remained open until 1917 when WW1 production limits were enacted and the factory closed to preserve natural gas for the city of Akron, during the war & bitter winter. The factory never reopened & the lot remains in Akron today, under the ownership of Michael Cohill.
(Photo Courtesy of Michael Cohill)
Akro Agate was founded in Akron, Ohio in 1910-1911 and moved to Clarksburg WV in 1914.
Akro Agate’s original founders were Gilbert Marsh (Shoe-Store Owner), Dr. Rankin (Practicing Medical Doctor), & Horace C. Hill (M.F. Christensen’s Accountant).
Akro Agate was started in 1911 in the Wagner-Marsh shoe store.
Although there is the theory of Marsh and Rankin having a marble machine in their attic of the shoe-store, “It is inconceivable that they actually produced hot glass marbles in such a place because of fire and other hazards” (American Machine-Made Marbles, p.8).
In the 1929 Peltier v. Akro Agate case, it sheds light on what was actually occurring at the Wagner-Marsh shore store.
“ That same evidence shows that another former employé (of M.F. Christensen), Stahl, who said he was in the employ of plaintiff (Akro Agate), interviewing his former fellow workmen (M.F. Christensen Employees), induced them to go to the shoe store of Mr. Marsh, plaintiff's (Akro Agate) president, in Akron, Ohio, some of the seven witnesses being among them, and that, while there, they saw what was said to be a Christensen machine; that Schwarz, plaintiff's expert witness, Marsh, Stahl, and others, were present” (CCA, 1929).
With Marsh mentioning that “ We built our own marble machinery”, it is with utmost certainty that M.F. Christensen employees helped design the machine.
According to the Akro Agate website, they moved from their shoe-store into a machine shop during the same year (1911).
In 1913-14, Akro then moved from their machine shop on East Exchange St. in Akron, Ohio to Clarksburg, West Virginia. (Roger Hardy & Michael Cohill)
According to Akro Agate’s website “The Clarksburg site was chosen for several reasons. The most important was the abundance and availability of natural gas and sand. Both are very important in the glass making industry. At this early stage, Marsh, Rankin, and Hill, weren't able to build a plant, but they found an existing plant that was vacated.
The building formerly housed the “National Aluminum Company”. It was an ideal site since it was located beside railroad tracks, with a side rail to the building for loading”
With the plentiful resources, Akro Agate was able to survive the production limits and resource rations that many other companies were facing at the time. This allowed Akro to essentially be alone within the Clarksburg area and focus on production
Akro Agate’s Horace Hill was arrested on February 24th 1915, & found guilty on March 26th 1915, on 4 counts of embezzlement. It is no coincidence that Akro Agate moved to an entirely new state to avoid this investigation.
Akro Agate’s final auction was held on April 24th 1951 & Clinton Israel purchased many Akro assets, rights to the logos, accounts, business records, stocks, and safe contents from Akro Agate. The majority of which has ended up in private collections, including M.F. Christensen’s Canadian patent (94,208).
Akro Agate Incorporated was chartered on September 20th, 1955, four years after the original company ceased production. This second set up was 90% controlled by Clinton Israel with the remaining 10 percent owned by Walter Schrader & M.P Dennison. The intent was to use Akro’s name and conduct a glass business, but it never came to fruition. The company was dissolved on May 13th, 1957.
(Photo of Akro courtesy of Roger Hardy)
THE MASTER MARBLE COMPANY / MASTER GLASS
In a 1998 Letter to Michael Johnson & Suzie Metzler, J. F Early Jr. wrote about the beginning of Master Marbles.
" On May 20th, 1930, The Master Marble Company was organized by J.F. Early, Claude Grimmett, John Moulten, and Clinton Israel with each owning twenty percent (20%) of the stock, with the remaining twenty percent (20%) being treasury stock. My father designed and built both the marble machine and feeder. During the month of October 1930, they were shipping marbles. The plant was located in the old Grazzelle Chemical plant. located in Anmore, West Virginia. " (J. F. Early Jr)
The Master Marble Company was sued by the Akro Agate company in 1933 after a long string of tension between the companies.
" In an attempt to obtain helpful information about the upstart company and perhaps still looking for evidence of patent infringements, an Akro employee was sent to covertly survey the Master Marble premises. Caught on Master Marble property, he was arrested and convicted of trespassing. The Akro Agate Company paid the fine to have him released from jail." (American Machine Made Marbles p.114)
The company's downfall came from a struggle between who was in control between stockholders and a restructuring of ownership.
In 1941, Clinton F. Israel gained sole proprietorship of the company and acquired their assets. He then sold the land and buildings to the "National Carbon Company" on April 18th 1941, and Clinton F. Israel moved the company to Bridgeport Wv.
1941-1973 Bridgeport Wv
The new "Master Glass Company" began under the sole proprietorship of Clinton Israel on August 1st 1941. It was located between the B & O railroad line and Simpson creek in Bridgeport, although the mailing address was for Clarksburg.
Master Glass continued to package their marbles as Master Marbles & Master Made Marbles, the same brand used by the Master Marble Company, which creates confusion even today, in some collections.
By the 1970s, Clinton Israel had the run-down equipment that John Early had designed and did not acquire any new equipment throughout his time with Master Glass.
Clinton Israel signed a letter of termination on August 1st, 1973 & closed the doors of Master Glass on June 1st, 1974.
This became the final resting place for all of the Akro assets, & M.F. Christensen's lost Canadian patent, until June 2020.
(Photo of the Master Marble company, courtesy of Michael Johnson & Suzie Metzler)