Marvin Stone

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For the basketball player, see Marvin Stone (basketball).

Marvin Chester Stone (1842 – May 17, 1899) is best known as the inventor of the modern drinking straw. He was born in Portage County, Ohio in 1842. His father, Chester Stone, was a well-known inventor of many machines, including the cheese press and washing machines. Marvin C. Stone inherited his father's inventive genius, and made many useful articles in his boyhood. He was a graduate of Oberlin College, but his course was interrupted by the Civil War, in which he took part with credit and won promotion. [1]

After college he began a theological course, but abandoned it to go to Washington where he was employed as a newspaper correspondent for several years. Later in his life, he invented a machine for making paper cigarette holders and made a contract with the Duke Company. After that he started a factory in Ninth Street, Washington. Next he invented a machine to wind paper straws, which were popularly used for drinking cold beverages. [2]

Prior to this, people used natural rye grass straws, which were undesirable because they imparted a grassy flavor in beverages. In response to this, Marvin C. Stone made the first drinking straw prototypes by spiraling a strip of paper around a pencil and gluing it at the ends. Next he experimented with paraffin wax-coated manila paper, so that it would not get soggy when used. This first model was 8 1/2 inches long and had a diameter just wide enough to prevent things like lemon seeds from getting lodged in the tube. Marvin Stone patented his invention on January 3, 1888. By 1890, his factory was producing more drinking straws than cigarette holders. In 1906 a machine was invented by Stone's "Stone Straw Corporation" to automatically wind the straws. [3]

His next invention was a method for color fine china in imitation of the celebrated "peachblow vase" of the Walters collection. [4]

Stone was spoken of as "the friend of the working class," in that he looked after the moral and social condition of his working girls, and furnished a large library of standard fiction and other works, a music room, and meeting room for debates, and a dancing floor in the building. He was also well known for his philanthropy in other areas. He and several others built two blocks of tenement houses for African American residents of Washington. [5]

Marvin Chester Stone died in his home in Columbia Road, Washington, D.C., on May 17, 1899 after a long illness. He was survived by a wife and a son, the former being the daughter of the head of Platt & Co., of Baltimore.[6]