The History of Marbles

Itís hard to pinpoint the exact moment in history when the first toy marble was made, or even if it was made explicitly for the purpose of play, since marbles predate recorded history. Ancient marbles have been regularly found in Egyptian tombs, Greek and Roman archaeological digs, and even before that, since marbles have also been found that date back to the Ice Age.

It has been theorized that the first marbles, used for play, were just small pebbles or balls made from natural clay. The succeeding materials used for marbles were china, real marble, and glass. They were all handmade until the year 1848 brought the invention of the marble scissor by a German glass blower, which made production much easier.

Large-scale machine production of toy marbles began a few decades later, when machine-made marbles were first rolled out in Germany and the United States in 1890, and the marble craze happened afterwards.

In the 1950s, the use of marbles really exploded. Also, the catís eye marble was created by injecting colored glass in a regular marble. Various effects were achieved with the use of different colored glass and different shapes or swirls.

These days, marbles have become such an important part of culture that they are not merely toys but also miniature art pieces, with some rare and expensive ones fetching over $5,000 a piece. The most expensive set on record was a box of twelve marbles made in 1930, with each marble stamped with a different cartoon character such as Krazy Kat and Orphan Annie. This cartoon marble set was originally sold for the price of 25 cents, but the same box today would cost you at least $900.

Regardless of where they began, marbles are a simple yet fascinating toy that brings out the child or collector in many of us.