This guide is meant to be a simple and quick way to identify and learn about vintage marbles. It is not meant to be the definitive guide to every type of marble ever produced. But I will try and answer some of the most common questions I am frequently asked, as well as show examples of some of the most collectible marbles.
The links above will take you to photos and descriptions of each marble type listed.
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Alan's Marble Connection was the most visited marble collecting website until 2007 when it was lost in a server crash. We have painstakingly recreated the site through the use of web archives and it is now up and running.
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One of my most often asked questions. Let's first determine where the marbles came from. Do you know about their history? Are they from a grandparent or relative or did you get them at an auction?
The age of the person you get them from will help right away. A 65 year old would have marbles from the early 50's, a 75 year old from the early 40's, etc.
If you get marbles from an auction or antique store it can be much more difficult to figure out. Most of the time the marbles will be old, we just aren't sure how old. Auctioneers will sometimes 'seed' an auction with Ball jars containing new marbles and call them vintage at the sale. Antique stores may have booths with these same jars. Many have fallen for this and overpaid for brand new marbles, including booth operators.
Browse through the picture pages listed here and you will start to get an idea of how old your marbles are if you recognize a few.
Condition is key to the overall value of a marble. Marbles are antique toys made of glass or clay. Like any glass antique, whether a plate or a marble, chips, cracks, etc. lower the final value significantly. It does not take much damage at all to lower the value of a marble.
This can be a real issue with marbles since they were kid's toys meant to be played with. The majority of marbles will have some damage. Collectors want mint marbles or as close to that as can be found. Marbles in poor condition will be of little value even if they are very valuable in mint condition.
Remember, just because a marble is old does not mean it's valuable. Condition, Condition, Condition! This is so important. If your marbles are chipped up and in rough condition, they will not appraise for much value.
Click on the title to see more information on each type of marbles or use the links at the top of the page.
German Handmade's were one of the earliest type of marbles imported to the United States. These remain one of the most popular of collectible marbles worldwide. There are hundreds of color combinations and styles, but most fall into a handful of categories.
Many imported German marbles were made of clay or different type of stone. The most popular were stone Agates which were hand ground. The clay marbles were glazed and some un-glazed. The most common clays are called 'Benningtons' and have a brown or blue spotted glaze.. The clay marbles with bulls-eye, flowers, leaves, etc. hand painted on them are called 'Chinas'.
American machine made marbles started being manufactured in the early 1900's. Production really took off with the use of marble making machines that could mass produce marbles. This lasted into the 1940's. Many of the marble companies would turn out 1 million marbles a day.
Foreign marble makers put most of the American companies out of business by 1950. A few remained in the USA including Marble King and Jabo, Inc. who are still in operation today. Most marbles today are made in Mexico and China. Mega Marbles and Imperial are two of the largest.
There are fakes and reproductions still being made today. Some are glass and try to mimic old machine made or German handmade marbles. The most common are clay marbles said to be dredged from a river, from the Tennessee area, Civil War marbles, etc.