Sorry it took me so long to post this, but I had the opportunity to meet John Frier Jr. and his daughter Nancy Frier...the former owners of Alox Mfg. Co in St. Louis. Nancy actually tracked me down hearing that I was looking for some information on Alox so it worked out really well. The Frier's are great people and I really enjoyed my time visiting with them.
John just had Hip Surgery but is on the mend and in terrific spirits!
Here is short biography of Alox and some pictures of some items that Nancy was gracious enough to give me.
Alox Mfg. was started in the year 1919 by John Frier Sr. in St. Louis, MO, sitting on Maple Ave in the City of St. Louis. The company got it's start as the first and largest manufacturer of shoelaces on the western side of the Mississippi. John Sr. was a very intelligent man... he wrote books and at the age of 17 actually constructed his own glider that he intended to motorize and put into production. Unfortunately the glider and the barn it sat in mysteriously burned to the ground putting an end to that particular dream.
In the 20's Alox diversified it's portfolio and began producing a different variety of toys including Kites, yoyos, Jacks, Jump Ropes, pinwheels and a few other items. They were also one of the largest producers of Chinese Checker sets in the country, but at the time they were importing there game marbles from Akro or Vitro and packaging them with their own boards. Sometime in the mid 30's the company they were obtaining the game marbles from began shorting Alox up to 10 pounds of marbles by putting a layer of broken glass in the shipping crates. This of course set a fire under John Sr. and he set out to begin manufacturing his own marbles.
In 1939 John purchased a used marble machine from a marble company out East that was going out of business(not sure whom). The marble plant was built on a seperate sight from the toy company and so began the Alox Marble era! The first marbles produced by Alox were somewhat crude as John began experimenting with different recipes for making marbles. They would use Maalox bottles for the blues, Coke bottles, and any other colored glass they could get their hands on. This led to many of the early transparent swirls that were produced by the company.
As time went on John became much more proficient at producing marbles and began creating some of the Master type marbles shown at the bottom of the page. John enjoyed producing marbles but it became an excrutiating process as the machine had to be manned 24 hours a day and he would frequently get calls in the middle of the night asking him to come down to the plant to fix the machine, or the heater or some other marble related issue. Finally in the 60's he decided that it was just too much work and officially closed the marble making portion of Alox's toy company.
John Sr. ran the factory until he passed away in 1974 where upon John Jr. took over the company. John Jr.(Jack) ran the company until Alox closed it's doors in the early 80's. The marble machine currently resides within the confines of Dollywood theme park and the original shoelace machine sits at the St. Louis city museum. Nancy also worked at the factory before pursuing other endeavors.
It was a great few hours and I am so happy that I had the opportunity too meet both of them. I intend on doing more research as a follow up and will continue to talk to Nancy as they continue to piece together the early history of Alox using sales bills and other paper work that the family has. With the help of the Friers I am also working on getting some really beautiful marbles that have been sold as Alox officially attributed as such!
Hope you enjoy the read and the lesson!