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POLISHED, BUFFED, COOKED, AND FILLED MARBLES

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Marbles that have been repaired through any of a number of methods are not reproductions in the true sense of the word, though a warning about them is appropriate here because they, like fakes and reproductions, are often passed off on to unsuspecting and/or inexperienced collectors.

Polishing and buffing are the two most common methods of repairing damaged marbles. This is usually done to rare marbles that have too much damage (flakes, chips, wear, etc.) to be enjoyed on display. Both methods involve grinding away the surface of the marble; polishing removes a good deal of glass while buffing is more superficial. The method used depends on the depth of the damage present. Polishing is more common on handmade marbles and buffing seems to be done more to machine made marbles. On the former type, the polishing usually removes the pontils though sometimes artificial ones are added. The best method to detect polishing and buffing is to closely examine the marble under magnification. Often, all of the damage is not removed and tiny scars, often crescent shaped, will remain. These scars, along with pits and flakes that may be left behind, will have smoothed edges. Polishing and buffing is not practical for some types of marbles, especially those hand made types that have bands of color on the surface (Indians, Banded Transparents, Clambroths, etc.), while on some machine made marbles the removal of glass from the surface can alter the design or even certain colors. This is most evident on such examples as National Line Rainbos.

Some marbles, particularly larger hand made examples, have deep pits and chips that have been filled with a clear polymer to fill in and disguise the damage. These often go unnoticed by the untrained eye. However, such alteration is fairly easy to detect. First, depending on the size of the filled area, the surface of the repaired area will have a different appearance than the rest of the marble. Often it is uneven or has a dull look as compared to the rest of the marble, or may even have an "orange peel" texture. Most polymers will show up under ultraviolet light, so if a marble that has filled areas is held under a black light, often these areas will glow a bit more than the rest of the marble and the repaired areas really stand out. A final method to detect filling is to prick the marble all over with a pin or needle. The sharp end of the object will sink into any filled spots while the areas of glass will not yield.

"Cooking" is perhaps the most difficult method of repairing marbles and therefore is not often done, as few have the skills to do this. Such repaired marbles are also the toughest to identify. Cooking actually involves heating the damaged marble to a high enough temperature so that the glass becomes partially molten, allowing such damage as fractures and cracks to "heal." Sometimes the marble is completely altered from its original appearance; such is especially true for expensive oxblood marbles like Leightons. At other times, the original design must not be altered, so the amount of cooking is less severe.

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Polished Handmade Marble---note missing pontil

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Polished Handmade Marble---note missing pontil

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Polished Handmade Marble---note scars

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Buffed Peltier Superboy---note how red has been almost completely removed and turned orange

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"Recooked" Oxblood Marble

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