Marble Pictures


Manufacturers Information Pages

Marble Articles
Marble Shows
Buy/Sell Marbles

Marble Photography
Marble Games



Ravenswood Novelty Company
Ravenswood, WV


By David Chamberlain

If truth be told, you could say that I’ve been asked by more people over the years to identify Ravenswood marbles than any other kind. It hangs heavy on me that there are so many people who have actually taken stock in what I’ve said! I came late to a realization that my so called expertise was strictly confined to that one large 1987 Ravenswood find reported in Castle & Peterson. I even sold Larry & Marlow a 50 pound box of those Ravenswood marbles undoubtedly adding unwarranted weight to their exclusiveness.

For a fact, there are Ravenswood varieties beyond that special population I was working from. Just look at these 19 favorites in Photo #1 that I separated from a larger group of 35 marbles belonging to Mike Johnson. All are Ravenswood and most every one distinct unto itself. And many are different from this exalted group of one-of-a-kind 57 varieties (Photo #2). I put these together after my gleanings from box after box of the 1987 find. I brought them to Amana 2004 but never took them out because no one came along who seemed sufficiently advanced in their Ravenswood interest.

Photo #1:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Photo #2Ravenswood Novelty Company

For the longest time, I pooh-poohed the idea that there were Ravenswood marbles larger than 11/16. Oops! See Photo #3, a gift from Mike Johnson and measuring 7/8. And he has the big brother to this marble measuring 15/16. I call mine my Ninja Marble!

Photo #3:Ravenswood Novelty Company

With some pride and accuracy, and conveniently working within the confines of that 1987 find, I can say that I was able to identify approximately 15 different varieties in which Brown or Tan in their various shadings were used (Photo #4). Wading through over 30,000 Ravenswood marbles, I’ve been able to put together only 5 groups like this. Of course, Brown is a rare color, not a color that a young kid would necessarily be attracted to, but aren’t they beauties? Alley Agate made a calligraphy marble using brown that is mistaken for Ravenswood but not often because they are so far a few between. Here’s an example so you don’t make the same mistake (Photo #5).

Photo #4:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Photo #5:Ravenswood Novelty Company

At a separate Ravenswood digging site called Hastings-Pinegrove they’ve uncovered an entirely different species of Ravenswood swirl. (Photo #6). All dug marbles. Except for the opaque ones, they could as easily pass for translucent Jackson or Playrite marbles. Often, unless you have ironclad provenance, it’s anyone’s guess.

Photo #6:Ravenswood Novelty Company

In every marble run , no matter how much you attempt to control the variables, there will be exceptions and these 15 marbles in Photo #7 exhibit the whole range including misshapen machine color changes, hybrids, one-of-a-kind colors, pee wee, and just plain totally unexplainable. Yet, all from that 1987 find.

Photo #7:Ravenswood Novelty Company

The first time I set to pulling out favorites from various 50 pound boxes I think I grabbed all the ones with true Red. See Photo #8 (by Marilyn Barrett, 1991). To this day I have this group in a bag labeled Top-of-the-Line! Of course, ones perception changes through repeated run-throughs and the passage of time. Still these hold a special charm for me. Other than these red varieties any others I came across are either red-orange (with an emphasis on the orange) or flat out orange.

Photo #8:Ravenswood Novelty Company

I think because they so much so bespeak Ravenswood, I should include another photo of the Brown varieties (Photo #9). Marilyn photographed this group in 1991. They’re not all different but they were photographed three years before her book came out and I wasn’t thinking about putting together an exclusive group. Nice chunk of coral background.

Photo #9:Ravenswood Novelty Company

For a virgin view of what one of those 50 pound boxes of Ravenswood marble looked like, here’s a 1991 photo by Marilyn (#10) before any serious plundering by yours truly. You can readily see how sparsely the Brown varieties are represented as well as marble examples with a true Red.

Photo #10:Ravenswood Novelty Company

I hate to be a killjoy but the stories going around about these cute little riverbank bottles with the two 9/16 Ravenswood marbles are bogus. (Photo #11). You’ll have to buy Mike Johnsons books for the true story. Im not about to give it away here. Even I was taken in!

Photo #11:Ravenswood Novelty Company

These simple marbles in Photo #12 come out of Buddy Bags from that 1987 find. After the longest time, I opened one of my three bags and had the greatest joy to discover that they had the most intense coloring. All of them 5/8-. This is one of my favorite marbles and photographs. I’ve named them Ravenswood Gumdrops! I consider it marble prerogatives! Sometimes the simplest of marbles or anything for that matter can have the strongest impression on you.

Photo #12:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Within the past couple of weeks, an old photograph has surfaced which conclusively identifies the marbles in the smaller 30 count blue USA boxes as Ravenswood.(Photos #13 & #14). The marbles are wonderful! They range in size from 9/16 to 11/16, many of them highly irregular in shape straight-line rolling was not a priority. There are only a few colors (green, amber, blue, and white) but a wide range of shadings from light to dark and all translucent swirls. For example: green cool mint to metallic green. They’re noteworthy for a very fine filigree of white tracery. These marbles are a joy to handle. They’re rudimentary and what marbles are all about a basic marble with class is always an experience, an emotional experience of the kind that can be spoiled by words.

Photo #13:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Photo #14:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Here in Photo #15, is a Ravenswood marble package done in quantity (3000) for the Haslip Hardware Store in Huntington, WV, in 1953. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an advertising disaster for Ravenswood. You’ll love the full story which I’m sworn not to give away but which will be fully detailed in Mike Johnson’s books coming out this year.

Photo #15:Ravenswood Novelty Company

Home    E-Mail    Marble Pictures    Manufacturer Information    Marble Articles
Marble Shows    Marble Photography    Marble Games    Marble Links 
Buy/Sell Marbles