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  PIONEERS

Get to know the people who help start the glass marble industry & those involved with the Akro Agate - M.F.C. scandal.
I included their memorial sites below if you want to show your respect.

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M.F. CHRISTENSEN

- Inventor of the glass marble machine & auger.
- Founder & Owner of M.F. Christensen & Son

  • Born on March 26th, 1849, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

  • Immigrated to the U.S. in 1867.

  • Worked in the drop forge steel industry in America's "Wild West".

  • Settled In Akron in 1880 and began working on his ball bearing patent. 

  • 1899 Invented a practical ball bearing manufacturing machine. Sold 4/5 of the rights for $25,000 capital. 

  • In December of 1902, M.F. Christensen began working on his U.S. patent for a glass marble manufacturing machine.

  • Experimented with James Harvey Leighton in The Navarre Glass Marble & Specialty Company. 

  • Opened M.F. Christensen & Son in 1903, later adding Charles Christensen & Horace Hill as employees. (Hill became the head accountant for M.F. Christensen).

  • In December of 1904, M.F. Christensen began working on his Canadian Patent. 

  • October 24th, 1905, M.F. Christensen has received his rights to the patent and to his new invention, the world's 1st glass marble manufacturing machine. 

  • Developed the world's 1st marble auger around 1910, but it was never perfected/patented. 

  • Passed away in 1915 due to "natural causes".

(Photo courtesy of Michael Cohill)

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HORACE HILL

- M.F. Christensen’s Head Accountant
(1905-1910)
- Co-Owner/Founder of Akro Agate
- General Manager of Akro Agate (1911-1916)

  • Born (Nov 2nd, 1879 In Huron County, Ohio, USA).

  • Died (March 31st, 1916 Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia, USA).

  • Hired on at the start of M.F. Christensen & Son (1905-06). 

  •  "Horace Hill's father was MF Christensen's best friend and neighbor, he lived around the corner. Horace grew up there and still lived with his parents during his employ at the MFC&SCo. From his childhood, the two families spent all their holidays together, etc. Martin didn't live long afterwards, the betrayal hurt him badly" (Cohill, Personal Conversation, 2021). ​

  • Became the head accountant for M.F Christensen.

  • Left M.F. Christensen & Son in 1910 with approximately $1500, in embezzled funds ($41,127.47) and M.F. Christensen's Canadian Patent (94,208). 

  • Worked with Dr. Rankin & Gilbert Marsh in building their own Christensen machine at the Wagner-Marsh shoe store in 1911. (Witness testimonies - 1929 Peltier Case).

  • Plagiarized the language of MF Christensen in order to get the specifications and wording for the patent. ( "Nine months after the Patent Office had rejected all of Hill's claims, except claim 4 which was considered allowable, Hill, on December 4, 1913, canceled all of the disallowed claims" (CCA) ("The language used by Hill in this connection is almost the identical language used by Christensen." (CCA) 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 clear to see what actually occurred there. 

  • According to American Machine-Made Marbles p.9, "Horace C. Hill, who had stolen so much from his former employer, M.F. Christensen, was not even moderately clever with machines and his plans for a new generation marble machine were perhaps also purloined from M.F. Christensen. He applied for a patent on a hand-fed semi-automatic machine for Akro Agate in 1912, but it was rejected by the U.S. patent office" 

  • Moved to the East Exchange St. machine shop with Dr. Rankin & Gilbert Marsh in order to make more machines for them to set up shop in Clarksburg.

  • Moved to Clarksburg WV in 1913- 1914 as the investigation was heating up.

  • Arrested while visiting his mom in Akron on February 24th, 1915.

  • Found guilty on March 26th, 1915 on 4 counts of embezzlement. 

  • Marsh & Rankin posted the bail  on and arranged for Hill "to do no hard time in an Ohio prison."

  • Passed away on March 31st, 1916, due to "Bright's disease". 

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J.F. EARLY

 - General Superintendent of Akro Agate (January 1919 - May 1st 1930).

- Worked on Horace Hill's Machine & Designed the Improvements.

- Received 2 U.S. Patents (U.S. 1,761,623 & U.S. 1,880,916)

- Part Owner of The Master Marble Company (1930-1939)

  • Born (June 6th, 1876)


  • Died (Oct. 10th, 1949)



From the 1998 letter from J.F. Early Jr to Suzie Metzler & Michael Johnson.

"My father, the late J.F. Early was born in Palmyra, Pennsylvania in 1876. He left the farm and moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1900, where he studied mechanical engineering. During World War I, he was superintendent for the Miller Rubber Company in Akron Ohio. 

In January 1919, the Akro Agate company had one melting furnace with four melting pots, each holding approximately 500 pounds of glass and twelve hand-gathering shops.

In 1923, my father entered into a ten-year contract to improve the H.C. Hill patent, and increase the production of marbles.


On March 22, 1925, he filed for a patent which was granted June 3, 1930, No. 1761623, and assigned to the Akro Agate, for making spherical glass balls.  By 1925, he had increased the plant to 18 hand-gathering shops, expanded the building, and improved the original machines to incorporate his patent. 

In 1928, he had developed an automatic duplex machine for use with the Hartford Empire Feeder, and filed for a patent, which was granted October 4, 1932, No.1880916. 

Between 1928 and 1930, he designed an adapter to be used on the duplex machine to twist the glass stream coming out of the feeder between the cutoffs, thus, as the stream of glass was coming out of the orifice, it was twisted, cut off, and dropped to the forming rolls below. 

Between 1923 and 1930, there were many changes in management at the Akro Agate Company, as they were now making huge profits. In my father's contract, 20 percent of the company treasury stock was to be transferred to my father. However, this stock was transferred to someone else, (one of the new stockholders). 


On March 15, 1930, my father mailed a letter of resignation to the Akro Agate Company, which was immediately accepted. Mr. Claude Grimmett, former Akro General Manager, John E. Moulten, Sales Manager, and Clinton F. Israel, all former employees, also resigned. My father felt he had received a raw deal with the new stockholders. You will also note that the two patents had been assigned to the Akro Agate Company. 

On May 20, 1930, the Master Marble Company was organized by J.F. Early, Claude Grimmett, John Moulten, and Clinton Israel, with each owning twenty percent of the stock, with the remaining twenty percent 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 Grazelle Chemical plant located in Anmore, West Virginia. 

In 1933, the Akro Agate Company sued the Master Marble Company in Federal Court, claiming infringement of the patents [sic]. The case was settled in 1937, with the Master Marble company winning, but the Master Marble Company had borrowed money to fight off the lawsuit. By 1939, all debts and the banks were paid off, and the company was in the black.

In the summer of 1939, Clinton Israel and the majority of the stockholders voted my father out as plant superintendent and his employment was terminated, although he still owned twenty percent of the stock. The Moulton and Grimmett stock had been previously taken by the bank and sold to outsiders, friends of Clinton Israel. 

In April 1940, my father purchased a dairy farm in Medina County, Ohio, where he lived until his death in 1949, at the age of seventy-three.

He never forgave Clinton Israel for his part in (what J.F. Early believed to be) stealing the Master Marble Company.


In 1941, Israel and the others sold the Master Marble property to the Union Carbide Company (According to American Machine Made Marbles, it was the National Carbon Company) and Israel took the machinery, feeders, etc. to Bridgeport, and set up his own company as Master Glass company, making marbles and glass pressware."

Sincerely Yours,

J.Fred. Early

(Photo courtesy of Roger hardy)

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CLINTON ISRAEL

-Worked for Akro Agate until 1930. 
-Drafted Blueprints for J.F. Early's machine.
- Managed the "Packing Department" at Akro Agate

  • Born (Jan. 26th, 1898)

  • Died (Feb. 25th, 1975)

  • Moved The Master Marble Company from Anmore to Bridgeport, West Virginia after selling Master Marbles to the National Carbon Company on April 18th, 1941. 

  • The New Master Glass company opened its doors on August 1st, 1941, and began production with Clinton Israel as the sole owner

  • Clinton Israel ran the entire life of Master Glass with the original machines from the Master Marble factory that were designed by J.F. Early. 

  • Akro Agate closed its doors in April of 1951 and auctioned off the last of its assets. It was here where Clinton Israel purchased at the final auction, many of Akro's assets including company records, financial accounts, rights to the name and logo, company-issued stock, etc.

  • Tried to re-incorporate Akro Agate on September 21st 1955, and terminated the application on May 13th 1957. It was never known why he wanted to re-incorporate Akro with the intent to "manufacture glass and glassware, in any and all of their varies kinds and branches"

  • The majority of the assets and paperwork ended up in the hands of private collectors in Bridgeport, including M.F. Christensen's Canadian Patent 94,208. 

  • Clinton Israel closed the doors of Master Glass on June 1st, 1974, after signing off on the termination letter on August 1st, 1973. 

(Photo courtesy of Roger Hardy)

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DR. GEORGE RANKIN

- Co-Owner/Founder: Akro Agate

  •  Born (Sept 6th, 1875)

  • Died (May 9th, 1931)

  • One of the three original founders of Akro Agate (Rankin, Marsh, & Hill).

  • Rankin worked with Hill & Marsh until his death in 1931, and Akro went under vast management changes quickly after Rankin’s Death.

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CHARLES CHRISTENSEN

-Co-Owner of M.F. Christensen & Son
-Ran the company after 1915 & pursued Horace Hill on the embezzlement.

  • Born (Oct. 27th, 1878)

  • Died (Dec. 25th, 1922)

  • Ran M.F. Christensen & Son alongside his father. (Vice President & manager) 

  • Assumed full responsibilities after his father's death in 1915. 

  • Led the investigation on Horace Hill & had him arrested.

  • Closed the company in 1917 due to a natural gas shortage in Akron, due to the war & an extremely bitter winter.

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GILBERT MARSH

Part Owner: Wagner-Marsh Shoe Store
Part Owner/Founder- Akro Agate

Gilbert “Stubby” Marsh

Hill Involvement with Marsh

  • “Hill got himself involved with a character in town, a man named Gilbert “Stubby” Marsh, who owned a children’s shoe store, Wagner and Marsh, located in the heart of downtown Akron."

  • "Stubby was the son of a wealthy family, a fellow who thought himself somewhat of a playboy and who hung out with the sons and daughters of other wealthy Akronites."


  • Somehow Hill and Stubby got together, decided to go into the marble business, and right away from the start it might have appeared something was wrong. When legal documents were signed for The Akro Agate Company, Horace hill didn't use his real name; he signed the documents Clinton. H. Hill, an auspicious beginning" (American Machine-Made Marbles, p.125).

No Memorial Site Found 2021
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JESSIE CHRISTENSEN

- Last Owner of M.F. Christensen & Son 
- After Charles died in 1922, she assumed full responsibilities and closed the corporation.

  • Jessie Christensen provided Sellers Peltier with all the information needed to ensure that the courts recognized her father, M.F. Christensen, as the rightful inventor of the marble machine & marble augers.


  • The 1929 Peltier v. Akro Agate appeals case found that Hill plagiarized his patent and that M.F. Christensen was the rightful inventor.

No Memorial Site Found 2021