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The Price of Marbles Back Then

Boys playing marblesMarble collectors everywhere will wince and smile at the prices I've dug up from old newspapers at the history treasure trove that is NewspaperARCHIVE.com:

  • 1894 - Flints, each 5c; Glass agates, each 1c; Chinas, per dozen 5c; Commons, 2 dozen for 5c
  • 1897 - China Marbles, medium, 10c per box; China Marbles, large, 15c per box; Glass Marbles, medium, 15c
  • 1898 - Size 0 marbles we sell you 12 for 1c. Size 1 marbles we sell you 10 for 1c. Size 2 marbles we sell you 8 for 1c. Glass marbles size 0 nine for 2c.
  • Size 1 (7 for 2c)  Size 2 (5 for 2c)  Size 6 (8 for 2c) Size 8 (4c each) Size 10 (8c each)
  • 16 Glass marbles in a bag for 6c. Cornelians or flints 1C each.
  • 1902 - Marbles, clay, 20 for 1c; Potteries, 6 for 1c; Glass, 4 for 1c; Flints, each 5c
  • 1906 - China marbles, 12 fo 1c; Agates, 10 for 1c; Glass marbles, 4 for 1c
  • 1907 - Large Glass Marbles 6 for 5c
  • 1925 - Akro Agate Glass Marbles, the No. 1 size, this year 5 for 5c

And finally an excerpt from this wonderful ad from 1897:

MARBLES
ARE DOWN AT
JACKSON'S TOY STORE
Water St., Benton Harbor, Michigan.
The lowest prices and the largest stock
in either city. All kinds of common,
both gray and colored, china painted,
both glazed and unglazed, china bull's
eyes, glazed, ballots black and white,
imitation agates or falsies, imitation
agates flamed, jaspers or cloudies
glazed,glass threads all fine, glass braudies,
glass opals, glass opals striped, imitation carnelians,
flint agates, carnelian agates, onyx agates, tiger eyes,
glass threads all sizes...

It is truly a treasure hunting experience to find these tidbits of marble history over at NewspaperARCHIVE.COM. You have to work hard and be smart, adapting your searches to an imperfect search database that is based on computers scanning and "reading" old newspapers (Optical Character Recognition). So if you try to find the exact phrase "Akro Agate Company" you might come up with nothing because the computer may have originally read "Akro" as "Afro". You have to be smart and search for both "agate" and "marbles" and this will open up all sorts of articles. From about 1900 to 1925 the amount of articles on marbles really picks up with reports of tournaments, etc.

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Marble Trivia

According to a late 19th-century American newspaper ad, you could buy a 'flint' marble for 5 cents, a glass agate for 1 cent, a dozen Chinas for 5 cents, or two-dozen 'commons' for 5 cents.