Welcome to some of the most fascinating things that are associated with marbles. This page consist of anything that deals in marbles, this can be new or old marbles!
Does anyone wonder how the most beautiful of colors are developed inside of the marble?
The most fascinating aspect of marbles when one looks at them is how did they get the color inside or outside of the marble. Machine made marbles and handmade marbles consist of various techniques in which makes them truly unique in regards to color and patterns. The many different colors are the result of fluorspar, the usual basic sand, soda ash and feldspar that are the result of the making of the glass. To make the certain colors like white, blue, and the many other colors the use of zinc oxide, cobalt oxide and black copper oxide is used. When getting the colors it is very important that the timing and temperature is of consistency.
Over the years many different marble factories had there own secret recipes. The most important of these recipes consisted of the workers that worked in the factories. It was those workers that had the knowledge to tool the machine in accordance to a certain pattern. These men were the true artist of the marble machine era. One great example of this era was a gentleman that worked at Christensen Agate Company. The company was located in Cambridge Ohio in 1927 to its demise in 1929. Arnold Fiedler was the inventor of the Flames, Guinea's, Cobras etc. He was a very nice gentleman in which he gave marbles to kids as a token of gratitude for the love of marble playing. The secret he had carried with him came from Germany in which he got his start of glass working and he had come to the United States for employment. Arnold Fiedler could produce many different colors of swirls of marbles that other marble companies of the time could not produce. Arnold would keep the secrets of his marble making only to himself and he would not even tell his secrets to his family. His secret took him to his grave! The secret recipes that are used in marbles continued up until the demise of machine made marbles in the 1960's.
This is an example of Arnold Fiedler's work this is a prized Guinea from the Christensen Agate Company.
This is an example of dug glass from the Christensen Agate Company, picture is courtesy of Carlin & Lucy Carpenter email@example.com.
Another great example of a marble factory was The Peltier Glass Company of Ottawa, Illinois. The company developed some of today's most magnificent marbles. Including in these marbles were the superman, Christmas tree, and comic marbles. One the secrets of this company was the developing of the comic character marbles. The characters included were Betty Boop (one of the best known cartoon characters of the 1930's she was adored by many) Bimbo, Koko and other characters. The unique aspect of this character marble was the developing of the technique so that the character of the marble would not come off the marble. George W. Angerstein who lived in Chicago developed this technique and sold his rights to use the process to the Peltier Glass Company. In October of 1933 Mr. Angerstein had applied for a patent for developing this. The sale of these comic marbles came from the years 1932-1934. In conclusion reproductions of these marbles are made in numerous amounts. The "old" comic marbles one could feel the surface and you could not feel the character on the marble and thus it would not come off. The new marbles one can definitely feel the character on the marble!
This is an example of what are called the Comic Marbles but these marbles are "NEW" but resemble the old style comic marble. One way to determine an old comic marble from a new one is to feel the surface! If you feel a rough imprint on the comic marble it is NEW. If you do not feel a rough surface on the marble it is most likely OLD.
The question arises What came first the American catseye or the Japanese catseye? A lot of marble collectors may feel that the Japanese had developed the first catseye marble. In reality according to Everett Grist he explains the origin of the catseye as developing in America. The Heaton Agate Company from 1939 to 1987 was the original producer of the cat's-eye in 1939 and 1940. This new marble did not sell. This marble evolved into a Japanese design in the decade of the 1950's. In the late 1940's the Vitro Agate company had come out with a catseye marble in addition before the Japanese had come into the market with making catseye marbles.
As you may have noticed of my marble site I have dedicated vast amounts of time into cat's eyes marbles. During the 1950's and the 1960's the swirl marbles of the past were losing touch with the children and the baby boomer generation found itself playing with a new form of a marble. A few marble company's evolved a new marble; a cat's eye. The Japanese marble factories were producing this marble and had developed it in a unique perspective then the United States. Although the Peltier Glass Marble factory had developed a cat's eye that was in a form of a banana by the early 1950's. Japan was making the most unique cat's-eyes marbles in the 1950's-1960's. The United States had company's such as for example, Marble King of Paden City West Virginia and Vitro Agate of West Virginia making there own unique american cat's-eyes marbles.
This nice grouping of marbles are some of the Japanese style catseye marbles.
This is a american cat's eye marble!
The mid 19th century until the mid part of the 20th century Germany was developing Sulphide Marbles! The sulphides could of been made in the United States and England. This had started the beginning of marble collecting! The contemporary sulphide marbles mimic the old sulphides with new animals etc. in the clear glass. Sulphides are clear glass round marbles that have silvery or white figures that consist of numbers, human figures, birds and animals. Pellat was an englishman and he is credited to the techinique of the sulphide. Two glassworkers were needed to insert the sulphide into the marble. One worker took the glass on the front of the rod while the other gently put the figure into the very soft glass. The glass from the end of the ball was folded over the figure gently. The sulphide was rounded using a wooden tool. The silvery sheen on the marble evolved when the process of the air would become trapped between the surrounding glass and the figure. The most interesting aspect about sulphides was that they were given to children as toys and were also used in jewelry. Currently today contemporary sulphide marbles are being made using the same technique that the legends of the time had used. One glass worker for example, Jim Davis in West Virginia is making sulphide marbles of various kinds. He is using his years of knowlege in glass to make some of the most spectacular sulphide marbles one can imagine. His brother Andy Davis is sharing his technique and is also making contemporary marbles. These artist explicit contemporary marbles in a way that the legends of the past had used!
This is an example of the new contemporary sulphide marbles.
This is an example of a old sulphide rabbit marble.
Reproductions, Fakes, & Repaired Marbles
I have always been amazed of the many marbles that have been produced using scrap glass or that have been re-worked from the past few years! Jabo Inc. with the use of Fentons scrap glass have used this to produce their classic marbles the past few years! As an owner of quite of few jabo marbles the marbles do appear to look dull looking! It seems to me that the mixing of the glass causes the particles to break down and thus the bright colors from Fenton become duller!
Some glassworkers and there are only a few at this time have been making marbles that mimic older machine made marbles. They sometimes do this with glass from old marbles or cullet (re-works), and sometimes from new glass. Some glassworkers do indeed sign there marbles and some do not! The marbles that seem very popular of late to reproduce are Christensen Agate Guineas and swirls Peltier National Line Rainbos and others. Please be careful when purchasing these marbles!
"Re-worked marbles are marbles that are made from pieces of original marbles, cullet glass or a combination with new glass". Most of the re-worked marbles today are bricks and oxblood's and also Leighton transitionals. The marbles are produced by a process which melts or layers colors together or on top of one another. Again most of these have been ground and polished because when making them this does not create a smooth surface.
Reproduction marbles are new marbles that are made to look as closely to the older machine made or handmade marbles. The majority of reproduction marbles seem to be the rarer examples. The most important point here is that no one is going to take the time to produce a 5-20 dollar marble when they have can reproduce a 200-400 dollar marble.
I would like to share with you one of my favorite glass artist that have been making marbles since the latter part of the twentieth century Mike Edmondson! Mike has been making marbles since 1995 and is very gifted at making the round sphere. Mike Edmondson has created an oxblood marble from a piece of old slag glass that looks real but the "fakes" he has been working on are for research and are not for selling purposes! Again education is the means of ones hobby and Mike is making it a point to make a few of the look alikes, so marble collectors can get a better idea of what to look for when contemplating buying a marble. He is NOT producing any type of old marble, he is sharing with marble collectors in the nation that certain individuals can have the ability to make older marbles! Mike does like to work with machine made ideas and designs. Mike reworks the designs so that he has a very contemporary marble and NOT a reproduction. Mike could have been making marbles in 1994 but he wanted to learn how to make glass signature chips first. Mike's first marbles were signed with a black E in white glass and this was in 1995. In 1996 Mike added a date in the glass chip. Below are one of Mikes Oxblood Marbles that was made from a piece of old slag glass that he has made along with a picture of a akro agate oxblood marble. Again Mike is sharing his knowledge and expertise in the wonderful world of art glass making and his marbles are to only show the education in marbles!
This is a picture of Mike Edmondson's oxblood marble which is made from a piece of old slag glass! Again this is for the education of marble collecting, this marble is not for selling purposes!
This is a picture of a Akro Agate Oxblood Marble
This is another of Mike Edmondson's creations of an oxblood marble. You can see that it looks like a M.F. Christensen & Son marble with the 9 pattern on the top pole! Again this is a new marble that was made from Mike and this is for the education of marble collecting, this is not being produced.
"Vacor De Mexico is a Mexican manufacturer of marbles. The company began operations sometime in the 1930's and today is one of the largest, if not the largest, manufacturer of marbles in the world. Their marbles are marketed under a variety of imaginative names: Pirate, Galaxy, Meteor, Galacticas, Silver, Agate. They are readily identifiable based on two features. First, the marbles tend to have an oily or iridescent sheen to them. Second, the glass tends to have ripples and creases in the surface". These marbles have value and are going to be one of the most collectible marbles in the future.
Some of the most fascinating of the mexican marble lines in the early part of the 90's consisted of the handmade marbles. I feel that these marbles were made for a very short time and thus this will become one of the sought after of the mexican line. The marbles are unique, and some consist of gold, silver specks and much more. The marbles do not have any sort of design and this is why the marbles are unique. One such pattern looks like superman colors of red and blue swirled like a tornado. If you have any information about the exact years of operation of the marbles please let me know!
House of Marbles in England
I have always been fascinated of the European countries. Some of the prized marbles have evolved from Germany, Czechoslovakia, etc. At present I wanted to educate the marble collectors of a place in England that is called the House of Marbles, in Teignmouth, South Devon, England this place is known for some high quality glass. The company makes art deco spheres, eggs, glass objects marbles and paperweights. House of Marbles makes handmade glass marbles and they resemble the older handmade swirls. They do not make sulphide marbles but all early handmade marbles are made. A lot of marble collectors become confused when purchasing marbles from the House of Marbles. They assume that the machine made marbles are produced at the factory. This can cause problems for collectors in which without adequate study individuals assign names to the marbles. Marbles that are sold from the House of Marbles are produced by foreign marble factories, in addition the United States. The House of Marbles head office is Devon England and in Belle Mead, New Jersey the United States office is located.
Marble Factories to Visit (information added June 26, 2002)
The most interesting way to learn how marbles are made is to visit marble factories. Some factories that still exist today will give you a tour of the factory and show you the way marbles are made. One of the most popular marble factories is Marble King in Paden City West Virginia. Please visit there website at http://www.marbleking.com. Marble King is still producing marbles today!
Guy and Denise Gregg had posted this on the marble family bulletin board and I think that it should be included under this category. While at the Ottawa, IL marble show he had time visiting all of the great marble collectors and dealers at the show. This also included the new owner of Peltier Glass, Mr. Boyce Lundstrom, and one of his employees, a Mr. Mike Barton, who is a glass artist and has been in the employment of Mr. Lundstrom for some 28 years. Boyce as he is called, has shown a great interest in marbles, and plans are on the table to start the production of a new line Peltier Marbles, without reproducing any of the Peltier as we now know them. One of his other plans, is to open a museum of glass, and related items, in the city of Ottawa near the Peltier facility. Denise and Guy were invited to go on a tour of the Peltier glass company facility with Boyce. They were greeted by Mr. James Armstrong, who is the son of the previous owner, and is now employed by Mr. Lundstrom. They were taken from where the raw materials were stored right on through to the finished product. They were shown several of the original marble making machines, which are presently being restored. They were allowed to take pictures and they proceeded through the factory. (Guy Gregg has since passed away, I will always cherish my email discussions with him, he was an inspiration to the hobby of marble collecting).
The first picture is of a 5/8's marble roller machine, with Mike, Boyce and Denise. The molten glass is cut, and dropped down on the left hand side of the rollers which are turning. The rollers themselves, as you can see are grooved and are auger type in design, so the molten glass will travel to the right as the marble is forming. When the marble reaches the right hand side of the rollers, it drops down on to a short shoot, onto another type of an auger which is also revolving and carries the container. Then is goes to an annealing oven which in theory prevents the glass from fractures.
The next picture is of a pee wee machine, with the same procedure or operation.
The next picture is Mr. Lundstrom, after taking a ladle of molten glass from the furnace.
The next picture he poured the molten glass onto the floor to give us an idea of just how hot the glass was. It actually burned as it was supplied with oxygen from the air, while laying on the floor.
The next picture is one of the very capable workers pouring molten glass form one of the main furnaces into another furnace, which brings the glass to the proper temperature. They were making gems at this particular furnace (those little things that look like a marble that has been stepped on).
The next picture is one of the original walls of the 116 year old building, with James, Denise, Mike, and Boyce.
Next is three of the various glass tiles that they will be making.
Next is two other glass tiles.
All of the information above is courtesy of Guy.
Marble Museum at York Nebraska (June 26, 2002)
Did you know that their
is a marble museum in York Nebraska? I did not know until Guy had posted
this on the Marble Family Bulletin Board. He had visited the museum and had
shared a few pictures from his visit. This is his exact words that he had
posted on the bulletin board. "Our
visit to the Marble Museum, in York, Nebraska was a very pleasant one. It
started with a trip to Leroy Johnson’s house. What a nice guy, and his wife
and Son is just as nice. He took Denise & I on a tour of his Marble
reconditioning Room. He has I believe, six Machines, all working at the same
time, it keeps him pretty busy, but he took the time to show us some of his
collection, he has thousands of marbles, and we just touched the surface. After
about two hours we went on to the Museum, There we were met by Mike Lee, and his
Aunt Marge Son. It seems like we had known all of these people for years, they
all had a personality, that was warm and friendly.
The Museum was a Florist Shop, prior, to the Lee’s buying it and making it into a Marble Museum. All around the perimeter of the this large room on the top shelves were Fruit Jars full of Marbles, with Showcases below full of marbles. They had every kind of Marble that you can imagine. From Clearies to Sulphides ranging in price up to, and including thousands of dollars. One of the Sulphides was a very rare 1 ˝”, two fish passing in Yellow or amber glass. They had boxes, bags, and everything else that marbles were sold or given away in, there was Marble related items such as auto reflectors, road sign reflectors, razor sharpeners, and about anything else that you can imagine. In the coolers where they used to keep the flowers, they installed black lights and they showed fluorescent marbles. These pictures don’t even touch the surface. My suggestion is if you are passing within 3 hundred miles, of this 8th wonder of the world, you have got to go see it, it is unbelievable.
Marble King Factory from Made in America 2007 (video added August 3, 2015)
Click on this link to download or view the video: http://www.kingofalltechnology.com/marblekingvideo.mp4
A few updates were added on August 28, 2016
Mikes Marble Homepage http://www.mikesmarbles.com