November 1, 2010
Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville will celebrate the exhibition, West Virginia’s Gift to the World: Marble King–The World’s Finest Marbles, with a gala reception on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m., in the Delf Norona Museum. Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and Beri Fox, owner and president of the Paden City, W.Va. marble company will address visitors with opening remarks. The exhibition and reception are free and the public is invited to attend.
The exhibit features a colorful mural of marbles which depicts 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,” and visitors can drop marbles down through a wooden maze that resembles the Marble King logo.
Other items on display include a marble gauge and marbles which were on a NASA balloon flight on May 24, 2003, 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 reception, contact Andrea Keller, cultural program coordinator at Grave Creek Mound, at (304) 843-4128, ext. 202, or e-mail her at Andrea.K.Keller@wv.gov. Indicate in the message if you are interested in receiving notification of other upcoming programs at the mound.
Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex features the largest burial mound in the New World which ranks as one of the largest earthen mortuary mounds anywhere in the world. A massive undertaking, construction of the mound by the Adena people took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., and required the movement of 57,000 tons of earth, approximately three million individual basket loads.
Exhibits and displays in the Delf Norona Museum interpret what is known about the lives of these prehistoric people and the construction of the mound. The complex also has a new wing which houses the West Virginia Archaeological Research and Curation Facility, as well as a study room for researchers and a library. Contact the complex for information regarding group registration and detailed driving directions. The Archaeological Complex is located at 801 Jefferson Ave., in Moundsville. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays. Access to the mound and the gift shop closes 30 minutes before the museum.
An outdoor exhibit, The Interpretive Garden, was planted in June with the cooperation of the Marshall County Master Gardeners program, and features crops grown by Native Americans based on archaeological evidence. Visitors can also see three additional traveling exhibits on display, Homer Laughlin China Company: West Virginia’s Gift to the World; Ladies Fashion Dolls of the Nineteenth Century by Pete Ballard; and Women of Design: Embassies, Mansions and Stately Homes – Pat Bibbee and Vivien Woofter.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.