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Marbles (with suede pouch)


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Historical Background: The history of marbles dates back to at least 3,000 years ago in ancient Egypt and Rome. The Roman poet Ovid wrote of the game of marbles. The oldest marbles found so far were buried with an Egyptian child at Nagada. Marbles from Crete that date back to 2000-1705 B.C. are displayed in the British Museum. Marbles have also been found in ancient Native American earthen mounds in North America. During the reign of Elizabeth I, tradition has it that a game of marbles was played to win the hand of a maiden.

The word "marble" was not used to represent the round toy ball made from various stones until 1694 in England. It was then that marble stone was being used for the toy and was being imported from Germany. Before this time, the English adopted the Dutch word "knikkers" for marbles. The word "knikker" was used by New York City children well into the 19th century.

The earliest marbles were made of flint, stone, and baked clay. For centuries afterward, marbles were made of stone and sometimes real marble. Glass marbles were made in Venice, Italy, and later, around 1800, china and crockery marbles were introduced. A glassblower invented a tool called the "marble scissors" in 1846 that allowed a larger production of glass marbles. Clay marbles began being produced in large quantities around 1870.

During the 1890s, the first machines to manufacture glass marbles were introduced. Martin F. Christensen invented the revolutionary glass marble-making machine in 1902, and his glass marble company produced over a million marbles each month. Horace Hill founded a company named the Akro Agate Company and moved it from Akron, Ohio, to Clarksburg, West Virginia, because natural gas and sand were more abundant in that area. By 1920, the Akro Agate Company was the largest marble producer in the world.

Berry Pink of the Marble King Company helped promote local and national marbles tournaments in America during the 1920s and 1930s. The National Marbles Tournament is still held annually in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Jeff Carskadden and Richard Gartley are recognized mibologists who have published the most scholarly works to date on the subject of toy marbles. Their research shows nine marble games that can be found on 17th- and 18th-century Dutch wall tiles. "Mib" is the Latin word for marbles; "ology" is Latin for "the study of."

Marble games can be divided into two types: the games in which a player tries to knock his opponent's marbles with his own (and win the marbles), and the games in which a player tries to hit a target or roll the opponent's marble through a hoop or into a hole.

There are specific ways to play marbles and to hold what is called the "shooter marble," which is a larger than the regular playing marbles. One method of shooting is called "knuckling"; and another way is called "fulking." One can also roll or flick the marble until these other two methods are learned.

Marble terminology:

Shooter -- taw
Alleys -- marbles once made of alabaster
Flints -- marble that look like flint
Cloudies -- marbles that look cloudy

Marbles are definitely a part of America's heritage. They have been a popular American game from Colonial times to the present. Norman Rockwell painted a wonderful picture called "Marbles Champ," which features a little girl winning the marbles of two forlorn boys. If you are interested in marbles, you can visit the Marble Museum in Yreka, California or online at www.marblemuseum.org.

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Marbles (with suede pouch)
Marbles (with suede pouch)
Item Number 3004

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