Buyer's Guide to Antique Marbles
by R. Renée Bembry
Antique marble collecting may be one of most fascinating types of
hobbies there is. The colorful 5/16 to 2 inch, light catching, glass or
stone spheres are awe inspiring. They're great for game-play - gently if
you must - and for showcasing.
When buying antique marbles, whether as a one time deal, or to begin a
collection, the first thing you might want to do is learn a little
marble history. Knowing where marbles were made may help determine their
value which in turn should help you determine how much you are willing
to pay for them. For example, for a period beginning in the nineteenth
century and continuing on till World War I, the United States tended to
import German made marbles. For the most part, they came from Lauscha,
which is a town bordering Nuremberg. These marbles may be identified by
their swirly designs created by heating various colored glass rods or
canes and then girdling them in liquefied glass. A tool called a
marbleschere, or glass cutter, was used to help accomplish this process.
Prior to the invention of the marbleschere, Germans used excavated
marble and alabaster from queries located in Coburg, Oberstein. In time,
they made marbles from limestone, gemstone, brass and agate. Prior to
this fancy marble making process, however, marbles were simply made from
In the late nineteenth century, American made marbles became a
lucrative business for a short time after inventor Martin Frederick
Christensen patented a steel ball bearing making machine. This machine
made marbles that were almost perfect.
Antique marbles can be valued form $5 to $100 or even more - a piece!
Not knowing where or during what time-period spheres you're considering
were made could lead to paying too much or later selling/trading for
too little. This is why, as with any antique collection, learning where
and when pieces were made is vital.
Evidence of value can be made using
sulphide marbles as examples. These nineteenth century made marbles
often had figures in shapes of animals, human busts, and even religious
insignia in their centers. The ones with busts and those that were
religiously inspired are harder to find than the animal type and,
therefore, more valuable. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $75 for
these and a little less for the animal figures.
Today's marbles, made from materials such as sand, silica, soda lime,
aluminum, and zinc oxide, are obviously not antique - yet! Adding
modern marbles to your collection, however could be a fun little
investment since despite their minor value today, they could become a
lot more valuable during the lifetime of someone to whom you'd like to
pass them. But that's not all...
can be just as much fun as collecting marbles. So...
Next time you buy
marbles from a toy store - buy some to collect and buy some to use while learning how to play marbles.
Learn how to play marbles in a circle.