Have You Lost Your Marbles?

Handmade marble

A thumb flicks a shiny marble across the cement and the camera zooms in on the child’s face – tongue curled over his upper lip in consternation, his gaze steady – as the tiny ball rolls toward its target. A smile erupts when the marble hits its mark. You think to yourself, “They just don’t make films like this anymore.” Watching the boy collect his marbles you ponder, “They just don’t make children’s toys like that anymore. Gone are the days of brightly colored marbles in velveteen, drawstring satchels.” But, here is the time for the collector of nostalgic children’s marbles.

Marbles have been around since Roman times and were often made of clay or stone. Glass marbles were invented in the mid 1800’s in Germany. In the 20th century America began producing a mechanized method of glass marbles. This production went on to become the most common system in the world and glass marbles became the most popular.

There are a lot of gray areas in marble collecting and identification is a chore. To categorize marbles, there are a number of factors that come into play, most importantly; condition, size, type, manufacturer or artisan, age, style, materials, scarcity, and the existence of original packaging. Each of these ratings is used to calculate the marble’s worth, but as always, demand plays the most prominent role. When it comes to marbles, beauty is key. If it’s pretty, it’s probably collectible. In the case when a marble is ugly but rare, it may be quite valuable as well.

I like handmade marbles. A handmade, glass marble made by an established artisan may sell for hundreds of dollars. Market value depends upon the color, condition, material, and origin of a marble. As with any collectible, find out as much as you can about the marble and compare it to what’s currently on the market for pricing.

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