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Saturday, 2 July 2011

The History of Marbles

What is a marble?
A marble is a small spherical toy, commonly made from glass, but also made from clay, steel or precious stone.

Marbles are used for playing many different marble games, as well as their appeal to collectors due to their beautiful aesthetics. (they look pretty!)

When was the first marble ever made?

There are no recorded dates of when the first marbles were ever made. It appears that the earliest marbles found by archeologists were made of stone, which was discovered along with some small stone pillars buried in a child's grave in Egypt in about 4000 BC. Similar clay and stone marbles have been discovered in Pakistan and in Austrian caves inhabited by our palaeolithic ancestors. It is also assumed that people would have played games using stones and nuts before this time.
Interestingly, there are murals at the roman baths in Somerset showing children playing games with marbles.

Glass Marbles
Shakespeare's works contain references to the game of marbles, and coloured glass marbles are known to be made in as early as the fifteen century by glass workers at the end of their day to take home to their children.
A German glassblower invented marble scissors in 1846, a device for making glass marbles. 

Mass Production
Ceramic marble entered mass production in the 1870's. Glass marbles followed later in 1903 made by the  M.F. Christensen & Son Company in the USA.

How are Marbles Made?

Glass marbles are made by melting the glass in a furnace, and then poring the molten liquid out. Different coloured glass is then injected into the flowing glass if required, and then it is cut into small cylinders with shears. These are dropped into a very long machine that has a rotating corkscrew roller, so as the glass travels along it is rounded off and cools.

Classic Games involving Marbles
There are many traditional games you can play with marbles, and they also feature in some of our classic favourites such as Hungry Hippos, Mancala, Kerplunk Marble Runs and Solitaire.

Don't forget to take a look at our range of beautiful marbles and marble games.

1 comment:

Julie Hunter said...

Such an interesting post.
There are so many styles and varieties I have now started to collect from around the world.

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