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Peltier Glass Company (1886-present)

COMPANY HISTORY

The Peltier Glass Company, located in Ottawa, Illinois, has its roots in the 1880s but did not begin producing marbles until the 1920s. However, when it did begin manufacturing them the company did it with a flourish.

The story of Peltier Glass begins in 1859 when Victor Peltier,  a glass craftsman, immigrated to the United States from his native France. He moved to Ottawa, Illinois, and worked at the Ottawa Flint Glass and Bottle Company from 1882 to 1886. At this time he established the Novelty Glass Company in Ottawa. This location was already home to several other glass companies, owing to the allure of its deposits of silica, which were among the purest in the nation. Here, Peltier manufactured a variety of glass items, including lamp chimneys, library lamp shades, Pullman car windows, cathedral windows, and more. Most of these items were composed of opalescent glass.

In 1919 the factory burned down. Peltier rebuilt it and changed the name to the Peltier Glass Company. Shortly thereafter, Victor's two sons, Sellers and Joseph, took over the company, along with one of their own sons. Soon, the Peltier brothers included marble manufacturing among their company's operations. This began around 1927, and the machinery used was patented by William J. Miller in 1926. This machinery was actually made in 1920 and used by Nivison-Weiskopf Company until 1924, when it was probably sold to Peltier. Records indicate that this little known company produced some 2,700,000 marbles with Miller's machine, though it is currently unknown what these marbles looked like.

In their first full year of marble manufacture, Peltier produced approximately 33,000,000 marbles.  The earliest Peltier marbles were made with the single-stream Miller machinery. Swirls and slags were produced in this manner. Within a few years Peltier updated the machinery, which eliminated the random swirling if "Miller" marbles. Due to declining sales in later decades, mostly due to the influx of the extremely popular "catseyes" from Japan, Peltier stopped producing marbles in either the late 1960s or early 1970s, though the company remains in operation today and still produces a variety of glass items.

IDENTIFICATION TIPS

Like Akro Agate and Christensen, early Peltier marbles are often composed of brilliant combinations of color. The first marbles by Peltier were produced by Miller machinery, and were single-stream slags and swirls. many Peltier marbles, especially early examples, have as-made blow-out holes that appear on the surface of the marble as tiny pits. Peltier marble sizes seem to be more variable than those of most other companies, and they produced many peewee marbles, in diminutive sizes for the most part not seen from other major manufacturers. However, some of their marbles, such as the National Line Rainbos (see below), are extremely rare in peewee (under 1/2") or shooter (over 3/4") sizes.

SLAGS

Peltier slags were called National Onyx by the company and were available in colors of brown, blue, green, aqua, purple, red, and yellow, in approximate increasing order of rarity. Early Peltier slags lack seams while later ones often have them. Regardless of when they were made, most Peltier slags exhibit a fine feathering of the white glass, a trait not seen in slags manufactured by other companies. More than anything, this is the key to identifying them.

MILLER SWIRLS

As mentioned, the earliest Peltier marbles (late 1920s) were produced by machinery patented by William Miller. As single-stream machines, Miller swirls are characterized by random swirling, though they typically will have a single seam from which the swirls originate. Most Miller swirls are composed of bright colors, which are often in the same combinations as the National Line Rainbos (discussed below).

Multicolored Swirls are a type of Miller swirl that have a transparent base, usually green, with swirls of several different colors. This type lacks seams. A specialized variety is known as the Honey Onyx; this marble will have a semi-opaque white base with a translucent yellowish brown patch and a thin translucent green ribbon.

NATIONAL LINE RAINBOS

Among Peltier's most popular marbles are the National Line Rainbos, which were produced as early as the late 1920s and up to the late 1930s. All National Line Rainbos will exhibit two seams, which differentiates them from the earlier Miller swirls. Most have an opaque base, though some are semi-opaque or translucent. The design will consist of "ribbons" of opaque to transparent color. There will be one or more colors represented on the ribbons, and usually there will be four or six ribbons present. Rarely, the ribbons will have aventurine glass in them, usually in black ribbons but also present on extremely rare occasions in blue or red ribbons. Aventurine is a type of glass with finely ground particles of copper (golden), chromic oxide (green), or ferric oxide (red), which causes it to sparkle under illumination, especially direct sunlight.

Collectors have assigned a variety of names to National Line Rainbos to describe their different combinations of color. A Superman will have a light blue base with yellow and red ribbons. Golden Rebels have a yellow base with red and black ribbons (there is often aventurine in the black). A Ketchup and Mustard has a white base with red and yellow ribbons. Christmas Trees also have a white base, but on these the ribbons are green and red. A Liberty has a white base, with blue and red ribbons, and a Rebel has a white base with black and red ribbons. Again, there is often aventurine in the black ribbons of the latter type. Other varieties include the Bumblebee (yellow with black ribbons), Zebra (white with black ribbons), Blue Bee (yellow with blue aventurine ribbons) Lemon Lime (lime green with yellow ribbons), Bloodie (transparent red on translucent off-white), Blue Zebra (white with blue ribbons), Red Zebra (white with red ribbons which often have aventurine), Cub Scout (blue with yellow ribbons), Wasp (red with black ribbons), Blue Wasp (red with blue ribbons), Tiger (orange with black ribbons), Blue Tiger (orange with blue ribbons), Spiderman (light blue with red ribbons), Superboy (light blue with blended red and yellow ribbons---usually the red lies on top of the yellow), Burnt Christmas Tree (white with green and reddish brown ribbons), Dragon (light green with red ribbons), Flaming Dragon (light green with red and yellow ribbons---usually the colors are blended to create a more orange effect), Blue Galaxy (light blue with aventurine black and yellow ribbons), Black Panda (black with white ribbons), Chocolate Cow (brown with black ribbons), Gray Coat (white with red and gray ribbons), and Submarine (translucent blue with wispy white base and orange ribbons). Sometimes the colors are blended, and often these marbles are very beautiful due to the multicolored effect. It should be noted that other, unnamed, color combinations are known, and also there are hybrids with three or more different colored ribbons. These latter examples are extremely rare. Also very scarce are National Line Rainbos with oxblood.

Recently, there has been an effort to further define National Line Rainbos based on their style of ribboning. Type One National Line Rainbos will have four to six ribbons that are heavily swirled as they run from seam to seam. Type Two National Line Rainbos will have four to six ribbons that run very straight from one seam to the other. Type Three National Line Rainbos have four ribbons, two each of which emanate from seams set on opposite sides of the marble but perpendicular to one another ("t"-shaped). Type Four National Line Rainbos also have four ribbons which form a "broken corkscrew" pattern as they swirl from one end of the marble to the other. Finally, Type Five National Line Rainbos have four ribbons, two of which form patches on either pole of the marble and two of which form equatorial bands. These latter marbles are often mistaken for Marble King ("patch and ribbon") Rainbows.

PEERLESS PATCHES AND CHARACTER MARBLES

Peerless Patches, as the name implies, are patch marbles. They were produced during the same period as the National Line Rainbos and therefore the colors are often the same. Peerless Patch patches are distinct from the patches seen on the marbles of other companies because they have curved edges. Sometimes they form the shape of the letter "S."Known color combinations include opaque black on white (the black often contains aventurine), transparent green on white, opaque yellow on green, opaque red on white, opaque yellow on light blue, opaque red on light blue, opaque red on yellow, opaque red on orange, and more. "Hybrid" examples with three colors also exist. A very rare type of Peerless Patch has a satiny finish on the patch. These are referred to as "pearlized" and are usually found as a greenish patch on light blue.

A very distinctive type of Peerless Patch was called "Picture Marbles" by Peltier and are usually known to collectors simply as "comics." These are Peerless Patches that have had one of 12 comic characters that were popular throughout the 1030s fired in graphite on the surface of the marble, which was subsequently refired with a clear overglaze. Usually, the marble has a white base, though color-based examples occur infrequently. The characters, in approximate increasing order of rarity, include Emma, Koko, Bimbo, Andy, Smitty, Herbie, Skeezix, Annie, Sandy, Betty, Moon, and Kayo. Very rare examples also have Tom Mix or an advertisement for "Cotes Master Loaf," and at least one specimen with Franklin Roosevelt also exists.

Another type of patch that may have been manufactured is the oxblood/aventurine patch. This marble closely resembles the Peerless Patch, and has a green patch on an opaque white base. On one edge of the patch there will be a thin strip of oxblood, and floating on top of that is light aventurine.

RAINBOS

Peltier Rainbos, the descendants of the National Line Rainbos, appear to have been first manufactured in the late 1930s and throughout the following decade. Composed of less brilliant glass, they were probably a response to a declining marble market and a need to reduce production costs. Like their predecessors, these marbles have two seams. They may have a base glass that is either opaque or transparent, and usually one or two ribbons that encircle the marble, usually near the center. Unlike on the National Line Rainbos, the ribbons on Rainbos often go into the base glass, whereas on the former they lie on and perhaps just underneath the surface.

As with the National Line Rainbos, several types have been defined by their ribbon patterning. Type One Rainbos are heavily swirled. Type Two Rainbos have six ribbons, four that form two bands on the equator and two forming patches at either pole. Type Three Rainbos have four ribbons which form two bands around the equator.

Most Rainbos have an opaque base, which is usually white though color-based examples are fairly common. Some of these have the same color combinations as National Line Rainbos, though they are generally duller. Rainbos with a translucent colored base are called Acme Realers. If the base is opalescent, and the ribbons are red, the marble is called a Bloodie. Sunsets are those that have a transparent bubble-filled clear base with red, orange, or yellow and white ribbons. Champions Jrs. have a dark transparent base with white and yellow ribbons. Tri-Color Rainbos have a colored base, either transparent or opaque, with ribbons of two different colors. Finally, Clear Rainbos are transparent clear-based, and have four or more different colored ribbons. Slightly resembling Markle King's Four-Color St. Marys Catseyes, these most often have a blue/red/yellow/white or green/red/yellow/white color combination. Almost all Clear Rainbos have thin ribbons, with around 10% possessing thicker ones.

Additional imaginative names have been adopted by collectors for various Rainbos. A "clown" has a dark transparent base with red and yellow ribbons. A "seven-up" has a transparent green base with red and white ribbons. "Baseballs" are opaque white with blue ribbons. The list goes on, but many of the names are rather arbitrary. Occasionally, a Rainbo will contain oxblood.

BANANAS AND ROOT BEER FLOATS

Peltier Glass Company produced a very specific type of catseye marble referred to be collectors as "bananas," because the shape of the single vane that runs from pole to pole in the center of the marble. These appear to have been produced later than most other American catseye type marbles, though by some accounts they were made prior to those manufactured by other companies. The vanes are often smooth sided, much like a true banana, while others have lobes or ridges down the sides. Common banana colors in clear base glass are yellow, red, orange, blue, green, and white, though other colors, such as lavender, are available but less frequently. Some bananas have turned up that have a green vane with a red stripe. More rare are hybrid bananas, which have two separate vanes instead of one. Peltier produced one specialized banana type in a colored base. Known as a "Root Beer Float," this marble has a dark amber base with a white vane.

SOLID COLOR MARBLES

Like most marble companies, the solid color marbles produced by Peltier are impossible, for the most part, to differentiate from those of any other manufacturer. However, some can be found in original boxes and therefore are identifiable as such. National Milkies were Peltier's version of the Akro Agate Moonie. These marbles are a translucent opalescent white. Canaries are similar marbles, but with a yellowish green tint, while Moons have a beige to orange tint.

PELTIER MARBLE GALLERY
(click on thumbnails to see full image)

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Multicolored Swirl

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Multicolored Swirl with Oxblood

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Brown Slag

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Blue Slag

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Green Slag

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Aqua Slag

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Miller Swirl (Liberty)

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National Line Rainbo (orange on yellow)

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National Line Rainbo (orange on blue)

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National Line Rainbo (green on yellow)

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National Line Rainbo (Red Zebra)

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National Line Rainbo (Zebra)

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National Line Rainbo (Bumblebee)

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National Line Rainbo (Blue Bee)

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National Line Rainbo (Lemon Lime)

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National Line Rainbo (Wasp)

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National Line Rainbo (Tiger)

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National Line Rainbo (Cub Scout)

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National Line Rainbo (Rebel)

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National Line Rainbo (Golden Rebel)

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National Line Rainbo (Christmas Tree)

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National Line Rainbo (Spiderman)

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National Line Rainbo (Submarine)

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National Line Rainbo (Dragon)

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National Line Rainbo (Superboy)

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National Line Rainbo (Superboy)

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National Line Rainbo (Superman)

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National Line Rainbo (Superman)

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National Line Rainbo (Superman with Yellow Aventurine)

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National Line Rainbo (Ketchup and Mustard)

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National Line Rainbo (Liberty)

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National Line Rainbo (Flaming Dragon)

National Line Rainbo (Blue Galaxy)

National Line Rainbo (Citrus)

National Line Rainbo (Black Panda)

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National Line Rainbo (blue base with black aventurine)

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National Line Rainbo (red, blue, and black on green)

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National Line Rainbo (Blended Superman)

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National Line Rainbo (Burnt Christmas Tree)

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National Line Rainbo (Super Cow--hybrid Chocolate Cow/Superman)

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National Line Rainbo (Christmas Tree/Ketchup and Mustard Hybrid)

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National Line Rainbo (Rebel/Christmas Tree/Ketchup and Mustard Hybrid)

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National Line Rainbo (red, black, yellow, and oxblood on blue)

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Miller Swirl (Superman)

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Peerless Patch

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Peerless Patch

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Peerless Patch

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Peerless Patch Hybrid

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Peerless Patch with Oxblood and "Metallic" streak

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Oxblood/Aventurine Patch

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Character Peerless Patch (Emma)

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Character Peerless Patch (Koko)

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Character Peerless Patch (Bimbo)

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Character Peerless Patch (Andy)

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Character Peerless Patch (Smitty)

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Character Peerless Patch (Herbie)

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Character Peerless Patch (Skeezix)

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Character Peerless Patch (Annie)

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Character Peerless Patch (Sandy)

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Character Peerless Patch (Betty)

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Character Peerless Patch (Moon)

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Character Peerless Patch (Kayo)

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Character Peerless Patch (Cotes Master Loaf)

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Character Peerless Patch (Tom Mix)

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Rainbo

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Rainbo (Christmas Tree)

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Rainbo (Bloodie)

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Rainbo (Sunset)

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Rainbo (with oxblood)

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Rainbo (tricolor)

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Rainbo ("clown")

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Clear Rainbo

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Clear Rainbo

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Banana

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Banana

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Banana

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Banana (aventurine)

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Root Beer Float

Other Marble Companies

Hand Made Glass Marbles

Hand Made Non-Glass Marbles

M.F. Christensen and Son Company

Christensen Agate Company

Akro Agate Company

Peltier Glass Company

Master Marble Company/Master Glass Company

Marble King, Inc.

Vitro Agate Company

Heaton Agate Company

Champion Agate Company

Ravenswood Novelty Works

Alley Agate Company

Cairo Novelty Company

Jackson Marble Company

Davis Marble Works

Playrite Marble and Novelty Company

Alox Manufacturing Company

Jabo-Vitro Agate, Inc.

Vacor de Mexico

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