Each TOY or GAME has a STORY to share with kids.
Today, it’s the Game of MARBLES’ turn to tell its story (with a little help from Grandma Sharon)…
WHAT is the Game of Marbles: There are many variations of the Game of Marbles… but each game is a game of skill, concentration, coordination, competition and fun using small, colored glass balls/spheres.
Both the little ball/sphere itself and the game are called Marbles.
WHO, WHERE and WHEN about Marbles : Marbles have been discovered in archeological digs all over the world, including the pyramid tombs of Egyptian kings, in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and in Native American burial grounds… leading historians to surmise that people from all places and time have played games with small spheres.
Early Marbles were made of balls of clay, flint or stone.
Late 18th and early 19th century Marbles were made of china, clay and glass… but the best Marbles were made of real marble, especially alabaster.
A less expensive version of Marbles made of glass was created by a German glassblower in 1846. This would revolutionize the Marble world.
In the 1890’s, the S.C. Dyke Co. and James Harvey Leighton, both in Akron, OH, manufactured the first mass-produced Marbles.
In 1903, the first machine-made Marbles were manufactured at the M.F. Christensen & Son Co., also in Akron, OH, on Martin Frederick Christensen’s patented machine.
3 other American companies, Akro Agate, Jabo Vitro and Marble King were also major manufacturers of mass-produced Marbles in the United States.
The 1930’s brought the production of Cat’s Eyes Marbles at a company called Peltier Glass. The injected glass is a simple curved form often referred to as “bananas.”
In the late 1940’s and 1950’s, foreign manufactured Cat’s Eyes and less expensive Marbles were produced. This is why some older Marbles are considered collector’s pieces.
Grandma Sharon’s mason jar of Marbles is filled with Marbles from childhood… the 1950’s and 1960’s. My prized Marble is a large one with an orange-colored slice inside the glass. I found this Marble on a playground in California when I was 6 or 7 years old and thought it looked like someone had put a carrot shaving in it…
I’ve taken this “carrot” Marble and my entire collection of Marbles along my life’s journey for over 50 years…
WHY were Marbles invented: Fun. Entertainment. Challenge. Competition.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were known to be earnest Marbles enthusiasts! So, if you love the Game of Marbles, you are in good company!
HOW do you play the Game of Marbles: Ah, interesting question. Some common Games of Marbles include Cherry Pit, Ring Taw, Boss out, Bridgeboard, Nine Holes… and many more.
Many games vary depending upon country or region, so it’s best to get a good Marbles book to get you started on the right toss!
A very good book recommendation is MARBLES: 101 Ways to Play, by Joanna Cole, Stephanie Calmenson, Michael Street and illustrated by Alan Tiegreen.
Just remember to tell your kids if the games are for keeps (Marbles returned to owners) or all fair (winner keeps all). Show ’em your stuff!
Join me here each day in July for TOY STORIES on 365 Days of Literacy for Kids! A little fun, a little learning and a little “ta-dah!”