Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shopping For Vintage Marbles

Finding Marbles Is Harder Than Hunting For Easter Eggs 

I bumped into an art friend in an antique mall a few days befor Easter. She was out looking for marbles to add to her grandchildren's Easter basket and I was out antiquing with my sister who was visiting from the Big Apple. My sister and I joined my friend  in the hunt for marbles.

Marbles it seems were harder to find than Easter eggs. One small jar of ordinary marbles was spotted (not shown) but it had a big price tag it seemed to me. But then again I have never bought marbles before and I have no clue about what's a good deal for marbles and what is a rip off.

Marbles For Play Only 

My sister and I left the antique mall and I promised my friend I would scout for marbles in the next ten stores I would be visiting. Keep in mind that we were searching for marbles for children who were not collectors but simply going to play with them.  It was not important at this time to really delve into the hobby of marble collecting with more serious exploration.

 Identifying Your Marbles

Now let's assume a marble newbie (cluelesss buyer and collector) such as myself,  finds a stash of marbles in an old jar or plastic bag in an antique and collectible store.  How do you  size up your marbles when you are comparing what appears like similar "ordinary" marbles found in different stores? The answer is you probably will not know what you are buying at this point in time, but you can begin to comparative shop.

Mayonnaise Jar Method Of Marble Buying

I had to think quick on my feet during my first foray into marble hunting so I constructed the Mayonnaise jar measurement system. I used the first small Mayonnaise jar filled with marbles that I noticed in the antique mall as my control jar. When I left the store and went antiquing in the area I compared all future sitings of marbles to that jar.

Don't Pre-Judge Your Marbles

At this point I was only making gross judgements about the quantity and similarities of the marbles I found. I  had no idea about the condition, age, rarity etc. I only was able to say something like "oh this guy wants $15.00 for a small Ziploc  bag of what looks like ordinary marbles and the other  guy down the street  has a jar filled with many more marbles for $20.00 for the jar.

Now I enter a group shop and I spot a  HUGE (think gallon size)  glass jar filled with marbles and the price is nice. I snap a picture of the marbles and send it to my friend. She visits the store the next day, buys the marbles and by Easter her grandchildren have a great easter basket treat.

 If the stash of marbles in a decent size jar is under $25.00-30.00 you can pproabaly take the plunge and buy the marbles without too much worry. But you may want to read more on this topic before you go out huntng.  For more about identification of marbles see

Learning More About Marble Collecting

But let's say you want to learn more about buying and collecting marbles.
I would suggest you visit the site of the marble maven BOB BLOCK. His site is  

Bob Block has excellent information on marbles on his site such as :

History of marbles
Kinds of marbles
How marbles are made
Are marbles still being made?
Where I can find marbles?
Can damaged marbles be repaired?
Are marbles being reproduced?
Games played with marbles.
How can I learn more about marble collecting?

We also have a Marble group forum on I Antique 

Jar of marbles show on top was found (and bought) at Burlington Inn Antiques, Burlington, CT

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of I Antique Online an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro café. To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link: C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff Email me at Visit my website, Dianne is a member of: The American Society of Journalists and Authors The Society of Professional Journalists


  1. And to think my mother got rid of all those wonderful marbles when we were kids. It hurts just to think about. I wonder what she ever did with them. They vanished one day without a trace. I'm afraid they may have gone the way of that old Life Game we fought over putting away. :(

  2. For more info on marble pricing you might try looks for a website by "The Moon Marble Company" in Boner Springs KS. They sell all kinds of wonderful marbles, and specialze in marbles as "art glass" it a wonderful place!

  3. I have Jabo marbles for sale. Jabo was the last marble company in Ohio. These were designed/produced by Dave McCullough. Go to for a sampling -- I have many more. I have some from the Badger run that can be re-purposed for art glass. My contact info is at the web if interested.

  4. I used to enjoy playing marbles during recess in grade school, the boys would get so made when I won! And when I got married and had two boys, during vacations in Abbotstown PA we would let them look for marbles so that we didn't have to leave too early! Still have all the ones they bought. They would be very colorful in a clear jar lamp.