Monday, December 15, 2008

Akro Agate – From Marbles to Housewares

Howdy Folks,

Today’s Antiques and Collectible Review is on the Akro Agate Company and the wonderful glassware they produced.

The Akro Agate Company was founded in 1911 by Dr. George T. Rankin, Gilbert Marsh and Horace Hill. Originally, the company was created for the sole purpose of manufacturing marbles. Have you ever heard of “Aggies”? If you’ve played marbles you have. Aggies were first produced by the Akro Agate Company, who coined the name. As strange as these humble beginnings this might seem for such a popular glass company, the company actually did very well with their marbles manufacturing and were the leading marble manufacturers for quite some time. In 1914 the company expanded operations and moved to a vacant plant in Clarksburg, West Virginia. By 1915, the company was listed in the Clarksburg City Directory as “manufacturers of toy marbles, caster balls, and glass balls for lithographers use.” Also around this time, co-founder Horace Hill passed away, and John Rawley and George Pflueger joined the company.

The marble business was booming for Akro, but by the early 1930’s the company started to expand beyond marbles. Some of the first of their new products were ashtrays and small containers such as cold cream jars. In 1936, the Westite Glass Factory was destroyed by fire, and Akro managed to purchase the company’s molds, thus opening up new possibilities for a myriad of new products. From the mid 1930’s through the early 1940’s, the Akro Agate Company produced a wide variety of items, such as vases, candlesticks, flower pots, planters, jardinières, and even children’s dishes. They also produced powder jars (their "Colonial Lady" and "Scotty" jars were their most popular. see below for a phot of the Scotty jar), cups, saucers, bowls and many other items.

It is often believed that Akro made lamps as well. However, this is not necessarily true. Although Akro made glass lamp components, they sold these components to other companies which manufactured the lamps and then sold them through various retail outlets.

Although many folks think of Akro Agate glassware was marbleized slag (whether black & white, blue, green, orange or other colors), Akro also made glassware that was in clear colors (blue, green and amberina), solid colors (green, yellow, blue, pink, custard – or ivory – and more), and crystal as well. Akro’s Ivory (or custard) glass was created by incorporating uranium oxide into the glass during the manufacturing process. Just prior to World War Two, the government began using all available uranium oxide for use in its war research. When this happened, Akro’s ivory glass was changed to a white milk glass. The original ivory glass was never recreated.

Akro enjoyed great success until about 1946, when the availability of cheap plastic and tin products virtually put the company out of business. By 1949, Akro decided to close it doors and stop glass production. They sold off their remaining stock, and in 1951 the company held a final auction sale and sold everything.

Today, Akro Agate glassware is considered highly collectible, and there have been several books written on the subject. A few of the best of these are:

“The Complete Line of the Akro Agate Company” by Roger and Claudia Hardy

“The Akro Agate Price Guide” by Roger and Claudia Hardy

“The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Akro Agate Glassware” by Gene Florence

The world’s foremost authorities on Akro Agate are Roger and Claudia Hardy. They have formed the “Official Akro Agate Collector’s Club” (founded January 1, 1993), and they host an Akro Agate Convention every year during the second week in July. Anyone wishing to join the club (memberships dues are $25 per year), or would like more information on ordering their books, can contact Roger Hardy by writing to him at, Roger Hardy, 10 Bailey Street, Clarksburg, WV 26301; or by Email at .

Some recently completed Akro Agate items on eBay include:

A box of Akro Agate Popeye Marbles, which had a total of 19 bids. The auction ended with a final auction price of $810.00

A 16 piece set of Akro Agate Children’s Dishes, which sold as a best offer of $155.00

A vintage Akro Agate Scotty Dog Milk Glass Powder Jar, which sold for $60.00.

The Akro Agate company made some very unique and beautiful pieces. Collecting this wonderful glassware can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, as well as a good investment

opportunity if you are collecting the more rare and unique pieces. Well, until next time, have a great day and an warm and wonderful Holiday Season.

Whiskey Jack

Today’s Word of Wisdom: “Some folks talk 'cause they got somethin' to say. Others talk 'cause they just got to say somethin.”


Kathy said...

Thank you for an informative article. I am researching some Akro Agate glass I bought and found this interesting. I did not realize the company made so much besides toys.

Kathy Eickholt

pluckylucky said...

eanceLoved your article about Akro Agate. I sell on Ebay and Etsy and am always on the lookout for vintage glassware. I just purchased three boxes of Akro Agate from a grandson of a lady recently deceased. She was a collector of Akro Agate. I have purchased the Hardy's book and found your article very interesting. Since I am such a lover and collector of vintage glassware I plan to bookmark your blog. Lucretia - plucky_lucky on ebay and pluckylucky on etsy

Whiskey Jack said...

Thank you! I am pleased as can be that you enjoyed the article!