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Marbles, and Where They Come From (1883)

October 25th, 2014,

Harper's Young People Marble ArticleThis fascinating article from Harper's Young People describes marbles as they existed in America in 1883.

It brings up the sad reality that child labor in Germany made these marbles so affordable to Americans. 30 years later, early American marble manufacturers would appeal to Congress to raise tariffs in order to compete with the cheap German labor.

Today when we say "marbles" we generally mean glass marbles, but in 1883 marbles were alleys and glass marbles were novelties:

Then comes a very large and beautiful class or variety of alleys known as "glass marbles."

It also mentions contemporary nicknames for German-made marbles, such as the "snow-flake" which based on the image appears to be either a cloud or mica marble.

This article had me asking myself why don't we spell "pee-wee" as they used to, "pea-wee"? As the author says of them:

They are comical little chaps no larger than a good-sized marrowfat pea.


Marble Photo Filter Fun with Picasa

July 6th, 2014,

Among the many neat image processing filters in Picasa, the free photo organizing tool for Windows, is one called "HDR-ish" that I think brings out the essence of marbles. I applied the HDR-ish filter to this group photo (first upping the fade option on the filter), and I think the result really does capture the essence of each marble vividly while highlighting the best aspects of each marble's construction.
Group Photo of Marbles with HDR-ish filter close-up

You might disagree, but I recommend you try it--and other filters--on some of your own marble group photos. Here is the original full-sized group photo of these marbles and the full-sized HDR-ish version.

And of course for sheer novelty it is hard to beat inverted colors such as on this group photo of Peltier rainbos. Notice the lamp highlight now appears to be a black eye in the center of each marble.

Peltier Rainbo marbles with inverted colors

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Morphy Auctions Marbles coming May 3rd

April 23rd, 2014,

Pink and White Opaque MarbleOnce again Morphy Auctions will be auctioning off hundreds of spectacular lots of vintage machine made and handmade marbles as well as some boxes and memorabilia.

The auction takes place at 9AM on May 3rd, 2014 in Denver, PA.

This time they are offering a digital PDF version of their excellent full-color catalogs (which I recommend you purchase). The PDF is nifty, but you will find much higher quality photos via their usual online catalog.


Marble Gallery

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Marble Trivia

Machine-made marbles known as 'sparklers' and 'sunbursts' were attempts to mimic the earlier handmade marbles called onionskins.