Saturday, October 22, 2011

Collecting Marbles

This past Wednesday our BWADA (Blue Water Antique Dealers Association)
 featured a marble collector.
Grant is from Freeland Michigan and has been collecting marbles for the last 15 years.

Limestone Marbles
 Circa 1700
These marbles were actually made from limestone and are gray in color.
Primarily used for a ship's ballast or in cannon shots.

Clay Marbles
Circa 1800
Clay marbles were usually left in their natural state, but some were dyed beautiful colors. Unfortunately the dye would wear off and you were left with the original natural state. These marbles were both German and US made.
The natural colors are not as valuable as the dyed ones.

Glazed Clay Marbles
Circa Late 1800's
Bennington marbles lovingly known to collectors as Bennie's are either brown or blue. Fancy Bennie's had some color.
 If you can find a green or pink one these would be worth around $15.00 each.

Black & Whites
Circa 1800
These early marbles were used as voting ballot boxes.
Easily distinctable as they are not totally round.

Crock and China Marbles
These marbles were baked in an oven. A design was added, and then baked again.
Because of this process, the color is not throughout.

Agate Marbles
These are true stone marbles and were polished using sandstone grindstones.

Glass Marbles
Circa 1800's
These were blown and cut off the tube with scissors.
The largest of these are 2 inches in diameter.
Some have animal figures that were inserted in them,
such as bunnies, bears and people.
These figural glass marbles can be quite pricey and may sell for up to $600.00 per marble. 
The ones pictured below are lattice glass marbles.
These range between $150.00 to $200.00.

Steelies that we all consider marbles, are not really marbles at all.
These are really ball bearings. However there were steel marbles made. 
They were hollow and always marked with an X on them. 

Mica marbles have actual gold mica flakes inside of them.

Lutz marbles were hand made from the late 1800's

Popeye marbles have the letter S in them. If you can follow a straight line from top to bottom that looks like the letter S, then you have a Popeye. the reason why these were called Popeye's is because they were given as a prize in the Popeye boxes.

Corkscrew marbles have a continuous line going around from top to bottom that looks like a corkscrew, but these marbles have nothing to do with wine.

Moonies are white. How to tell if your white marble is a Moonie is by holding up to the light.
 If the marble turns a orange tint, you have a Moonie.

So now that you have a few ideas of what some of the marbles are like,
maybe you might have some that are really worth something.
There are many more types of marbles out there, like Cat's eye's and Flying Crows.

If you would like to learn more about marbles,
let me suggest this color guide book that Grant recommended to all of us.
The Pictorial Price Guide to Marbles by Robert Block.

Good luck to all of you who may have some marbles in your house or
maybe those who might want to start collecting.
It really is a fascinating world of antique and collectible items.

Autumn Blessings


  1. So many times your posts touch my heart, Janice! I have mason jars of marbles from my childhood. I love them! I bought some unique marbles at a flea market in Tennessee to start a collection for my daughter. One of my fondest childhood memories is searching for lost marbles on the playground when the snow would thaw in the spring. Thanks for the interesting info! ~*~Lisa

  2. Wow - what a fascinating post - would have loved to have been at that meeting. I have a particular affection for clay marbles...and a "I wish it were more" collection of them....They are getting harder to come by....but never heard of a flying crow....might have to hunt one down... ;o) Thanks for sharing! Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin


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