The Vitro Agate Collection
“The Power of Imagination comes alive when you design a Marble”
The Vitro Agate Company, Parkersburg WV.
Drawing donated by Mike Johnson and Suzie Metzler
History of the Vitro Agate Factory in Parkersburg, West Virginia
Written by former owners of The Vitro Agate Corporation
(original edit by The Marble Museum and, in 2008, edited again by The Museum of American Glass)
Henri Arthur (Art) Fisher, Lawrence E. Alley and Press Lindsey founded The Vitro Agate Company on April 19, 1932 at Vienna, West Virginia. In the late 1930s, Fisher and Lindsey bought out Alley, and later Art Fisher bought out Lindsey. The original marble-making machines used by Vitro were designed and built by Mr. Fisher. In, May 1945, the company moved to a larger building in Parkersburg.
In, January 1969, The Gladding Corporation purchased Vitro Agate and its name changed to The Gladding-Vitro Agate Company. In, January 1982, Gladding-Vitro was purchased by The Paris Manufacturing Company of South Paris, Maine, and the name changed back to Vitro Agate. From the time of the name change in 1982, however, the company continued to use the on-hand stock of Gladding-Vitro Agate labels, until they were exhausted in 1984. A new Vitro Agate design was then put into use.
Plant Managers over the decades of operations have included Howard Hildreth, Blaine E. Lemon, D. I. Gandee, Richard Ryan and Lewis L. Moore. Lewis joined Vitro in 1950 and became manager in 1982 (he is now retired).
In September 1987, Richard J. Ryan, former plant manager and his partner Timothy Sullivan purchased the Vitro Agate factory. They created a new line of marbles with new packaging and labels.
The Vitro Agate Company Today
In 1992, Jabo, Inc. purchased the Vitro Agate Corporation and became the oldest and largest marble manufacturing company in the world. Jabo operates a factory in Reno, Ohio and the Vitro Agate Company in Williamstown, West Virginia.
In November 2001, the Dolton Family purchased the Vitro Agate Company’s historical archives from a former Vitro Agate Company owner. The collection was then donated to The Marble Museum in December of 2002 for preservation and, in 2008, was turned over to the Museum of American Glass for both preservation and display. The Vitro Agate Collection includes some of the following:
- Letters written by Art Fisher.
- Over 100 historical photographs from Parkersburg.
- Dozens of photographs from Anacortes.
- A study of spherical machine patents by Art Fisher dating to 1857.
- Original 1941 Vitro Agate Company trademark document for “Marine Gems.”
- Original Vitro Agate Company logo “proofs.”
- Original Vitro Agate Company pre-war sales brochure.
- Original Gladding-Vitro and Anacortes sales brochures.
- Dozens of original marble, tank, cats-eye, and package machine drawings and blue prints.
- Original Vitro Agate Company “National Tournament Rules.”
- Original 1930s “Jumpcheck” game documents, legal correspondence and patent submittal documents. Important insights into Art fisher’s marble game inventions!
- The two examples of the company’s attempt to make a machine-made sulphide marble, plus one of the only two known loose figures.
- Two of the only five known “Vitro Agate Company” world logo marbles made.
- 38 of the Vitro Agate Company experimental confetti marbles.
- Letters written by Blaine E. Lemon, Howard Hildreth, D. I. Gandee and Louis L. Moore.
- Tooling, and other hardwre, for example, an Asbestos Fire Suit worn at the furnace tanks.
- The contents from the Anacortes showroom and a salesman sample box.
- Misc. other company documents, newspaper articles, marble collecting newsletters and books from the company’s old files.
This is a most impressive list. The Museum of American Glass wishes to thank the donor over and over!
Rare 11 inch by 17 inch Original photograph of Art Fisher’s Marble Machine
Donated by Raelyn Dolton
Rare 1 inch Vitro Agate Company, “World Logo Marble”
Donated by Raelyn Dolton
The Museum of American Glass in West Virginia wishes to thank Raelyn Dolton again and again for donating this impressive collection to The National Marble Museum. Portions of this donation will be rotated through an “ever changing display” at the Museum of American Glass’s National Marble Museum Collection.
The Museum of American Glass is especially interested in donations of Vitro Agate Company marbles, additional letters or documents, original packaging and Fisher “Jewel Trays” to add to the Vitro Agate Collection.