Buying 54lbs of Marbles

54lbs of marbles (about 4000)Every collector dreams of “scoring” a big lot of what he collects. So when I saw an ad about “tons and tons” of marbles for sale locally, marble fever overtook my mind and I dropped everything to get to those marbles first. It was quite an adventure which I shall summarize like so:

  • Day one (morning): I email the seller hoping they still have the marbles.
  • Day one (afternoon): Seller emails me back saying they still have them and they all appear to be hand made except for a few machine made ones from the 50s and 60s. Wow! I email them back attempting to arrange a meeting.
  • Day one (evening): I can’t sleep. Visions of onionskins the size of onions fill my head. I’m literally shaking from anticipation, not to mention terror that maybe some more savvy collector with a faster car and fatter wallet will get there first.
  • Day two (morning): They reply. With a phone number. I arrange to meet them as soon as possible. After speaking with them, it becomes clear that giant onion skins or sulphides will not to be found in this lot. But I still must make the journey.
  • Day two (afternoon): I leave work three hours early and bring a lot of cash, just in case. I drive almost 90 minutes and there they are. A lot of marbles. 54 pounds worth in fact, or more than 4000. And unfortunately a whole lot of catseyes and clearies. Like maybe 85%. Not a handmade swirl to be found except one sad, chipped little guy.

Nevertheless, I spotted a couple of agates and quite a few machine made swirls. Nothing obviously spectacular but there simply wasn’t time to go through them all there, so I offered the sellers $200 for everything, around .5 cents a marble. They accepted. As I lifted the heavy boxes I knew this was going to be fun. And it was fun. I’m still going through them.
As I reflect on it, the $200 was darn near worth the price of admission. The whole adventure of wondering, hoping, waiting and discovering was worth $100 at least. And going through them is priceless, as any marble collector will tell you.
By the looks of things so far I haven’t done bad at all. Condition varies from pathetic to mint. This is what I’ve set aside so far with more to come hopefully:
A few nice ones among 4000

2 Responses to “Buying 54lbs of Marbles”

  1. Tom Says:

    Good score! I see some nice NLR’s, Caged cats, Snt Marys?, Is that a Superman cork 3 down from 1 oclock? all reds, blackies, orange peltier banana, is that big brown one at 11 oclock a MFC? a nice varied lot of marble here, and I wouldnt exclude all the catseyes from the whole picture just yet, some cats eyes are very hard to find I hear, i purchased a catseye book not long ago just in case and I have some rare ones in my collection (i have a few hundred cats) that i need to ID still, not bad at all Jason, I myself go out and spend 2 hundred bucks in a night out with some mates and have nothing to show for it the very next day (except for a few dying plants on my front lawn) 🙂 us aussies love our beer.

  2. admin Says:

    I’d say this $200 was better spent on marbles this time, although $200 in beer would be a lot of fun. 🙂 Still, despite a lot of new catseyes, you are right: a ton of Vitro hybrid cats, three nine-vane cats, and quite a bit of newer but still quality mibs such as around 200 Vitro phantom/conquerors. That big brown is a very damaged MFC. In fact there were quite a few heavily damaged Akros and what not, which is sad, but it’s also why I knew this lot was worth getting at first glace. Also quite a few really nice WV swirls that I can’t really ID myself. I’m taking the best down to a local marble show next month to get some help with ID’ing them. Now to find more lots to sort through…

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Before marbles were called 'marbles' in England, they were known as 'bowls' or 'knickers'.