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Marble Collecting


By Violet Bramer Smith, November, 1941



For a number o years I have followed many hobbies.  However, collecting marbles had not entered my head until we became interested in marbles at school.  We made a study of old marbles, marble playing, and of marbles used in today’s games.  We prepared a marble collection.  This is the result of our findings.

We assembled a collection of marbles used long ago and marbles used in today’s games.  The modern marbles we classified as to colors, kinds, and size.  The old marbles that we found were agates, crockery, glass, and “common” ones.


Common Marbles

Common or “commies” were made of common clay.  They were painted, and sold ten or fifteen for one cent.  “Commies” are still used and we found a store that still sold them ten for one cent.  Sometimes “commies” were called “combones.”


Crockery Ones

We talked about how “crockies” were made.  We had 14 crockies in our collection.  The smallest was on-half inch in diameter.  Most of them had a brown or blue glaze.  A three-fourths inch one, was white with blue and green stripes.


Glass Marbles

There were two kinds of old “glassies”- Swirls and “onions.”  We classified the clear glass with the colored swirls in the middle as swirls.  The smallest one was less than one-half inch in diameter, the largest on two and one-fourth inches in diameter.  The large one was found by the W.P. A. digging in a river channel.  It was badly nicked and scratched.  I don’t know if this was from use or the action of the soil.  All swirls except one were made of clear glass.  This one had a green tint.  Out of twenty-five swirls there were only two that had duplicate designs.  Some were in perfect condition.  Others had seen a lot of playing.


Those glassies that were of opaque color and had lines in swirl on the outside rather than in the middle, we classified as onions.  We had two green onions, two black ones, one blue, and on red, white and blue.  The two black ones we guessed were much older than the others as they were not ture in shape or design.


We had ones that we called a novelty marbles.  It was one and one-half inches in diameter, and had a dog in the middle.  We heard about marbles with bears, eagles, and goats in the middle.



The agates were the hardest ones to find.  Most boys did not know what an agate looked like. Some of the Dads had treasured agates at home.  Some were not willing to loan them.  Finally we collected fourteen agates but only two were really good.  The others were either chipped or poorly ground.  The largest was seven-eighths, the smallest one-half inch.  The rest varied in size.  We did not get any “mossies” or “cannicks.”  We had one that was made of stone.  However, some people with whom we talked said that it was not a carnelian.

We learned from the encyclopedia that most agates were made in Saxony, Germany.  The stones wee cut into one-inch blocks.  These were ground between two stones.  The bottom one was of stone with grooves in it.  It was stationary.  The top one was made of oak.  It went round and round.  The grinding took place with water running between the blocks.  Two hundred marbles were ground at one time.  It took fifteen minutes to grind them.


Although we went into the subject in a limited way only, we discovered many interesting angles in marbles and the game with which they are played.  Here is a field for collectors, which with a few exceptions, is practically undeveloped.  There should be some pleasant rewards to those who engage in collecting marbles.

I have high resolution images of this article that has advertising in it.  If you would like copies please e-mail me.

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