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Notes On Marble History


Compiled by Mrs. Mary Metzerott


Long before Columbus set foot on American soil, the inhabitants of the American continent were playing marbles for flint and clay marbles have been found in the earthen monuments of the Mound Builders.  Remains of the Stone Age in Europe, Asia, and Africa have produced marbles of clay or pebbles.


Roman and Egyptian children played marbles, for some of these plaything of theirs are preserved in the British Museum.


Years ago when marbles were made mostly of alabaster, the game relating thereto began to be called “taw.”  It seems that children, trying to say “alabaster” said “alley tor,” and then just “alley” or “taw.”


In recent years there has developed the National Marbles Tournament, in which it is said that as many as 3,000,000 children of the country have participated.


Some forty or fifty years ago most boys proudly boasted of at least one large clear glass marble with perhaps a lion, dog or chicken made of a solid white or silver substance in the center of the marble.


Very few families’ have old marbles left, so it has been a long and uphill climb for my son to gather the collection pictured, opposite, making his hobby more thrilling and adventurous.


The candy stripe marbles are beautifully colored and are from one and one-half inches to two and one-half inches in diameter.


A few small, solid white marbles in the collection are china, and very old.


A great deal of the detail in marbles is lost through photography, and of course, the beautiful coloring is lost.


Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe in 1720, wrote of children playing marbles, and of their being very dexterous at shooting the little “alabaster globes.”


G. Kern, supervisor of the Cleveland, Ohio, playground, has made research into the history of the marble, and I am grateful to him for some of the historical data used here.



Kirk Oliver Metzerott's Sulfide Marble Collection










Caption below picture reads "Kirk Oliver Metzerott, twelve, of Rocheater, Minn.,belongs to that large army of boys who likes marbles.  He is examining a large Bennington marble in his collection.

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