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NEGAUNEE — The exhibit celebrating Webster Marble and his Gladstone company will travel from the Michigan History Museum in Lansing to the Upper Peninsula next week. “Inventing the Outdoors” opens at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee Sunday, Oct. 30, with a reception from 1 to 3 p.m. The exhibit will run through mid-October 2017.
Although Marble is not the household name it was when Theodore Roosevelt and Admiral Robert Peary carried Marble Arms products on their expeditions, outdoor enthusiasts still revere the name. “Inventing the Outdoors” explores Marble’s genius for practical innovation, constant product improvement and marketing. Marble eventually owned more than 60 patents for outdoor products. His designs for knives, compasses, matchboxes, axes and gunsights set the standard for the 20th century.
“When Webster Marble worked as a timber cruiser, northern Michigan was seen mainly as the home of such resources as timber, iron and copper. By the start of the last century, we began to value the outdoors as a place of recreation and leisure. Marble saw the change and capitalized on it,” said Troy Henderson, a historian with the Michigan History Center.
Many of the artifacts on display come from a collection of Marble’s products and materials donated to the museum by Dennis Pace, who also helped curate the exhibit.
Advertisement with picture of hunting dog and rifle with the words Marble’s Game Getter Gun“As we enter the woods today with every imaginable kind of gadget, it’s instructive to remember that it wasn’t long ago that the simplest items were survival necessities,” said Pace. “A reliable compass, a well-designed knife or a waterproof matchbox could all be lifesavers. It’s fascinating to relive that time and to understand that Webster Marble perfected and manufactured the best of these products right here in Michigan.”
Besides knives, axes and colorful, large poster advertisements, the exhibit will display the rare “Game Getter.” Manufactured from 1908 to 1914, this was a light, double-barrel (over/under) combination gun. The 1921 (or M21) version, manufactured between 1921 and 1941, included a fully folding stock. It combined an upper .22-caliber barrel for small game and a lower .44-caliber for larger animals.