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Mark Greenig: The Marble Co. is not what you think

A vintage Marble Arms Corporation gun cleaning kit with proper sleeve in very good condition. MARK GREENIG/RECORD

When I mention the word marble most think of those little round pieces of glass we all played with as children, myself included. In the context of this week’s article that is not the case. I am discussing the Marble Arms Corporation of Gladstone, Mich. This company has over 100 years of historic experience producing a multitude of highly collectible items for the outdoor enthusiast. From a premiere maker of iron gun sights to knives, gun cleaning kits and more this organization continues to this day manufacturing products which enhance the outdoor experience for anyone utilizing their products.

We will focus this dialogue on their vintage gun cleaning kit.

Webster Marble came to Gladstone, Mich., in 1887. Five years later he began production of his first invention, the universal rifle sight. History states, recession and the “panic of 1893” put off further sight developments until 1902. In 1899 their products were at Sports Expo in Madison Square Garden. In 1909 Marble’s opened a new 24,000 square foot factory, touted at that time as the “finest of its’ kind in the world.”

It was 1913 when Teddy Roosevelt carried a Marble compass during his expedition exploring the Brazilian wilderness. 1927 found Charles Lindbergh carrying their knife, compass and matchbox on the first transatlantic flight. These are just two examples of the many testimonials of the durability of Marble products.

In fact, during the lifetime of Webster Marble, he received over 25 patents for his inventions. Probably the most sought after items of the Marble Arms Corporation are their iron gun sights and knives. However, many Marble Arms collectors actively watch for any vintage product manufactured by this company including their gun cleaning kits.

Be advised there are a number of similar styles of their gun cleaning kit in the open market. Most are pre-zip code era. Better graphics make particular kits more desirable than others. Kits are usually orange in color and include a heavy paper sleeve. The sleeve will likely have a picture of a gun with the “Game Getter” product wording or a moose. Whatever style, the metal gun kit will have the same graphics. Paper sleeves will have the kit components listed on its’ exterior. Kits will contain a silver metal cleaning rod. That rod will have three pieces, including one with a wooden handle. Other items included are canton flannel cleaning patches, three ounces of marble gun oil, small plastic container for the company’s touch gun blue and an easy clean cloth. If the kit is missing any of these parts, value drops dramatically. The reason being these kits are not rare so condition is paramount for easy selling.

The metal case which contains all these parts has great graphics. Those with animals such as moose, bear and the like are what you want to be on the lookout for.

On the inside cover of this case is the Marble’s gun cleaning kit logo and extensive instructions on how to use their product. Specifically, they should include sections on why a clean gun shoots best, how to clean, summer month storage and cold weather use.

Case dimensions are 14.5” long, 4 5/8” wide and 1.5” deep. You need to know these details if considering buying or selling a vintage/original Marble’s gun cleaning kit. My research on value shows complete kits in very good or better condition selling for $35 to $75 each. Most are selling near the lower figure.

Any vintage product by the Marble’s Arm Corporation is a sound investment due to the large multitude of collectors looking for their items. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.