FAKE AND REPRODUCTION PACKAGING
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FAKE AND REPRODUCTION POLY BAGS
Recently, there has been an astounding number of "original packages" flooding the marble collecting market. Some of these appear as vintage boxes, such as attempts to reproduce containers by Christensen Agate Company, Master Marble, and others. More popular are polyvinyl bags, apparently because of the ease and inexpensiveness with which to create them. Many of these actually do not even represent marble bags that ever existed in a genuine state! Common to this category are promotional items, such as promotional petroleum giveaways, beverage giveaways (some having genuine counterparts, however), and "Rio Theater" giveaways.
FAKE ALOX AGATES POLY BAGS
The Alox Agate Company was in operation from the 1920s until 1989. They produced net mesh with their own marbles. However, they never made marble packaging advertising the U.S. military or even packaged any marbles in polyvinyl bags, as the following fake bags, filled with modern marble King marbles, suggest.
THEATER POLY BAGS
In an obvious attempt to tap into other collectible markets, the person(s) responsible for producing fake poly bags have cleverly come up with the idea of creating a set of packages purporting to be theater giveaways, primarily from the Rio Theater in the 1940s. These mostly "advertise" popular western stars of the day in order to attract collectors of Americana, film, and western collectibles. These never existed until the past couple years!
"Lash La Rue"
"Roy Rogers and Dale Evans"
BEVERAGE POLY BAGS
Beverage giveaways are popular, and therefore someone has decided to reproducing genuine marble bags as well as concoct some that do not have genuine counterparts. These are perhaps the toughest bags to determine the origins of since some are very similar to the vintage examples. The best way to differentiate them is by the marbles inside. Also, real beverage giveaways were "bottle hangers," where a circular opening in the header allowed the bag to be suspended from the neck of the bottle. However, as you can see, some of the fakes possess this same feature.
FILLING STATION GIVEAWAYS
Another popular line of collectibles include filling station giveaways. Thus the large number of marble bags sporting gasoline company headers that have appeared lately. All of these are fakes...to my knowledge, no petroleum companies ever distributed promotional marble packages.
"Indian Parts and Service"
MISCELLANEOUS POLY BAGS
The following set of packages represent both "fantasy" and reproduction polyvinyl marble bags. Some, like Champion Agates, Vitro Agates, Mr. Peanut, and Milton Bradley, have genuine counterparts while most of the others are products of someone's imagination.
"Santa Barbara Air Express"
"Jeff's Sure Shot"
"Lil' Black Sambo"
"Eisenhower and Nixon"
"I Love Lucy"
"Billy Jo Bob's Bait and Tackle Shop"
"Sonny Sugar Cones"
"Autumn and Taylor Machinery"
"Winchester Fishing Tackle"
"Purina Cattle Chow"
"Purina Pig Chow"
"Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey"
TOBACCO POLY BAGS
A new wave of fake poly bags struck in the summer of 2000. All of these bags are filled with modern marbles, with one variety per bag. These marbles have color schemes which are intended, apparently, to be matched with the product with which they are supposed to be associated. Though there is a large number of these bags, which have fake headers for many companies, many are for cigarette and other tobacco products. Common sense alone will tell you that even in the heyday of tobacco products, these bags (which obviously would have been geared toward children if genuine) would never have been released.
FAKE POLY BAGS WITH MODERN MARBLE KING MARBLES
The most recent fake poly bags seem to be those filled with new Marble Kings. I have seen four types, represented by Bumblebees, Girlscouts, Boyscouts, and Watermelons. Remember, Marble King never sold its Rainbows in poly bags by type; they were always mixed. Also, vintage Marble King marbles have patches and ribbons of alternating colors, while their new marbles have a single ribbon of one color and two poles of another.
So who is perpetrating this scam? Well, many dealers are attempting to sell these bags. These items appear on Internet auction services such as eBay, at flea markets, in antique malls and stores, and even at marble shows. Many sellers of reproduced and faked packaging may themselves be ignorant of their origins and perhaps purchased them believing they were genuine. Actually, one person is allegedly to blame for most of the poly bag hoax. He lives in Florida. Apparently this is the person producing these polyvinyl reproductions. I only have well-informed second-hand information about this character.
Here are a few pointers on becoming better educated about how to detect and avoid fake poly bags:
1. Know Your marbles! People who manufacture the polyvinyl bags are either too cheap or too stupid to fill them with vintage marbles. Often what they will contain are modern Marble Kings or Jabo Vitros. In the future I suppose we'll see these bags with older marbles, once the scam artists can no longer fool people with the present reproduction bags.
2. Does the bag look too new? Most of the reproduction bags are in remarkably well-preserved condition. Remember that these are supposed to have been made in the 1940s through the 1960s. They should show it, usually as fading and perhaps tearing of the label, rusted staples, rubbing on the poly vinyl container, and so forth. However, use caution when using these criteria. For example, not all old bags possess rusted staples. And not all new bags have shiny staples. I have seen many with artificially oxidized staples. I believe they are using a mild acid solution to cause this premature rusting. Typically, such staples will have tell-tale stains on the paper header surrounding them, since a liquid solution was dropped onto the staples. Also, I have noticed recently that fake bags often have paper headers that have been ripped, faded, stained, and so on in order to lend them greater credibility by looking as old as they would be expected for their claimed age.
3. Genuine polyvinyl packaging will have a seam down the middle of the backside. This is completely lacking on fakes and reproductions. Also, original poly bags tend to be thicker and will show signs of aging and weathering, typically a "cloudy" effect on the bag's interior.
4. Faked headers are printed with ink jet printers. Look at the header under at least 10x magnification. If you can see tiny dots of color and bleeding of the ink into the fibers, chances are it is fake.
5. Do some research and be sure that the so-called original package you want to buy at least represents a product that was actually produced. One good method is to browse through collectibles books on the company which was promoted by the marble package (i.e. Coca-Cola collectibles books), if it is a promotional bag at least. Make comparisons.
FAKE AND REPRODUCTION NET MESH BAGS
Net mesh bags are also reproduced. Since the genuine ones slightly precede polyvinyl packaging they are often worth more. The reproduction mesh bags I have seen are often genuine; however, they have fake headers attached to them. Older net mesh bags are often found with the headers deteriorated or missing, and it is an easy chore to print up an new header and staple it on. Other mesh bags are very recent, the types in which Mexican marbles are often distributed, and have had their original headers replaced with fake ones. Regardless of the actual origins of the mesh bags and their marbles, the best way to spot a fake is by knowing whether or not the header is genuine or not. Fake headers are printed with ink jet printers so will have the tiny dots and ink bleeding that can be found under magnification.
"Alox Agates Army"---note genuine but modern mesh bag with fake header
"Mr. Peanuts"---note possibly fake header on possibly original bag (this one I am not completely sure about)
"Tom Mix"---note fake header on original bag
"Weather Bird"---note fake header on original bag
"Gulf Oil"---note fake header on original bag
FAKE AND REPRODUCTION BOXES
Reproduction boxes are harder to produce than polyvinyl packaging, but since some original boxes can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, there certainly is incentive to go through the trouble to reproduce.
Several such boxes have been detected. Two are Christensen Agate boxes. The trait here that differentiates them from the older boxes are the labels, which have been printed with an ink jet printer. If you inspect these labels closely you will see that the print is composed of tiny dots which bleed into the paper fibers. The genuine labels are block-printed, so will have solid colors, even under magnification. Also, these boxes tend to have staples on the ends, which the originals lack. Finally, the marbles in the boxes will be newer types, and you can tell they have been recently added since the interior of the boxes will lack the small indentations which are formed by marbles resting in them for several decades.
Some years ago the Peltier Comic marble box was reproduced. Though the maker of these stamped the interior as reproductions on most, a few unsavory dealers will still try to pass them off as old.
One other box that appears to have been reproduced is the Master Glass No. 5 box. There are several factors differentiating the new versions from the old, including the font (particularly of the "M" in the word "Master") and the fact that the genuine boxes have a flat look to the print, whereas the reproductions are glossy. It is open to question why these would be reproduced, however, since the originals can often be bought for around $20.