Heart of Glass - Blenko Glass

Blenko Glass is a West Virginia treasure that spans generations. Nothing symbolizes the state of West Virginia better or more beautifully than Blenko Glass. We will discuss current and former craftsmen and designers and how important it is that Blenko and West Virginia glass be appreciated and valued by the younger generation.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cultural Center to host opening reception for Marble King exhibition on Monday, March 16th

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will celebrate the exhibit, West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Marble King–The World’s Finest Marbles, with a gala reception on Monday, March 16, at 6 p.m., at the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Visitors can meet Beri Fox, owner and president of the Paden City, W.Va. company, and witness the presentation of a limited edition marble of the world to Governor Joe Manchin III and First Lady Gayle Manchin and Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division of Culture and History. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.
Visitors also can see a film about the company, and purchase two different sizes of the limited edition marble of the world and other selected items. Marble King will provide a certificate of authenticity with the limited edition marble.

The exhibit is on display in the Lobby Gallery where visitors can see a colorful mural of marbles which features the Marble King logo. The mural has 47,232 marbles, measures six feet by 16 feet, weighs 393.5 pounds and was created by members of the Division’s technical services staff. There also are vitrines which contain games such as the Wizard of Oz Family Board Game, Hungry Hippos and Marble Quest: 3-D Tic-Tac-Triva to name a few. In addition there is a “Marble Drop,” which begins in the Balcony Gallery, ends in the Great Hall and visitors can drop marbles down through a wooden trough to a maze .Other items on display include a marble gauge and marbles which were on a NASA balloon flight.
On May 24, 2003, DVD about the company, photographs, marble terminology and more.
Berry Pink and Sellers Peltier founded Marble King in 1949, although the history of the company really began in the 1930s and early 1940s when the marbles were actually manufactured by Peltier Glass in Ottawa, Ill. By the late 1940s, Pink, a successful businessman who loved interacting with children, was selling more marbles than Peltier could produce. The two joined forces and formed another manufacturing company, with Pink holding the majority of shares. He traveled across the country hosting marble tournaments and giving away marbles at each stop. Pink became known as the “Marble King” which is the name they used when the company was formed in 1949.
Originally Marble King was located in St. Marys, W.Va. When a fire destroyed the factory in 1958, the manager, Roger Howdyshell, moved the company to Paden City. Howdyshell, an engineering major before serving in World War II, returned to school after the war under the G. I. Bill to get a degree in business. He was hired right out of college and began working his way up the ladder.
Howdyshell was an innovative man who left his mark on the marble industry in many ways. He led Marble King to produce the first American-made Cat’s Eye marble and developed a process called “veneering.” This allowed the marble manufacturer to use less expensive glass as base glass and put a thin coating on the exterior surface to give the marble color. After dedicating his life to the industry, Howdyshell purchased Marble King in 1983. When he died in 1991, his wife Jean and daughter Beri Fox ran the company until Jean died in 2003.
Marble King’s marbles can be found in marble games, board games, fish tanks, jewelry, landscape accents, on decorative vases, in spray paint cans and other industrial applications. They have been featured in movies such as The Goonies, Hook and Home Alone. Marble King is the leader in marble production shipping worldwide and in 2000 it received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Exporting.
Marble King continues to make inventive strides and creates interest throughout the world. In 2007, Governor Joe Manchin III presented the company with the Governor’s Commendation for International Market Entry, an award it has won many times in the past and will strive to do in the future.

For more information about the West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Marble King–The World’s Finest Marbles exhibit opening, contact Jacqueline Proctor, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about the exhibit, contact Charles Morris, manager of collections and exhibitions for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.


Anonymous said...


Hillary J Homburg said...


the post on Marble King was excellent. I hope there is a large turnout. WV and the Ohio Valley was home to many talented marble makers (and still is). Marble King is renowned for "game" marbles. Art Glass marbles were made by many. I have attached a photo of our small collection of Robert L. Hamon (of the Hamon Glass Company in Scott Depot and later with Kanawha Glass) marbles. In the photo the largest marble is about 2 inches in diameter and the smallest about 1-1/4 inch. We have about a 100 or so of these. Some we have kept as collectors and others we have sold at our store or on our website.

Kissin Kate's Antiques LLC

Thank you. I have scheduled this to publish on Wednesday if Blogger co operates. Everyone plan to attend, support this West Virginia Business.

Hillary J Homburg said...

Mountain Rita
I could not agree more. Frequently I phone Charles Morris with 'really' dumb questions, he kindly points me in the right director or else quickly answers my question.
Most everyone on staff at Culture and History has superior knowledge. This is one unit of State Gov. NO ONE can complain aout.

Dr.BOB said...

My wife and I will be there tonight, will you?

bridgett said...

Your continued support of all things West Virginia should not go unrewarded in your life time.
Does anyone play marbles in these Wii times?
More about this subject please. Also how did a marble factory decide to locate in WV?

Anonymous said...

Yes Bridget, People do still play with and collect marbles. My grandchildren are now teaching their children.
My husband and I taught my grandchildren to shoot marbles, and we have a shoot off each year when we gather. They all have a small collection of marbles from many different makers.
Margie Hale

Anonymous said...

Mountain Rita
My vote also for the new Commissioner of Culture and History, all I have read and hear is positive.
Margie Hale

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Anonymous said...

neat link ralph i've been there 4 times now.
susie q.