Buying Good Marbles without Good Pictures

It is a fact that in a blurry photo, fair condition marbles look nearly as good as a mint condition ones. It’s also a fact that some eBay sellers offering marbles neither know about marbles nor how to take good pictures of them. This combination of factors give you, the buyer, an opportunity to score a nice batch of marbles at a better price than you could if the pictures were sharp.

Or not.

It takes a bit of detective work and lot of gambler’s luck, but if you’re lucky the payoff is a return to your childhood on Christmas morning. It’s all relative to what sort of marble collection you already have, of course, and what types you like to collect. But it’s a great way to build up your collection if you’re still new to the game, not to mention it’s just a lot of fun.

I recently won this batch of about 175 marbles for just under $50. Here is how they appeared on the auction listing:

Vintage marble lot

The only thing I knew for sure from the pictures was that the marbles were vintage and the seller said some looked like they had never been played with. That’s an important point. If he had said they all looked in played-with condition I would not have bid so high. If you look carefully you can see a nice colorful Akro Agate corkscrew near the top middle, in unknown condition.

Soon the box of marbles arrived all wrapped carefully in several bunches of bubble wrap.  It was the moment of truth. As I unwrapped the first bunch I felt relief and greater excitement after a couple of mint-condition slag marbles rolled into my hands. These moments are savored by marble collectors and all collectors–knowing you have done well, and that you may do even better. I would pay a $20 admission price just to have that feeling for 20 minutes. So already that $50 was looking more like $30 to me, and the nice marbles kept rolling out.

By the time I’d finished unwrapping the marbles I was a happy camper. Below is a nice sharp photo of the best ones. The left group includes 35 beautiful wet mint condition slags, and the top right group starts from the left with a mint Akro Agate Superman corkscrew, followed by a near mint Alley Agate flame swirl. There is also a nice mint Champion coral pink swirl and two more Akro Agate swirls. The middle right and bottom groups are in good to near mint but still some interesting marbles. Not pictured are about 70 more nice marbles in good to near-mint condition, about half of them slags.

Vintage Slag Marbles

This can be addicting. I’d better go now while I’m on a roll. There’s a couple of lots of old blurry marbles ending soon that I have to bid on.

One Response to “Buying Good Marbles without Good Pictures”

  1. Mary Sue Holst Says:

    I am going through some of my friends marbles. They are disabled and in need of money. So they have me going through I would estimate about a thousand marbles. Some his father played with. He is 61 so his father was born in the early 1900’s. I am seeing a lot of what you have pictured and some that you do not.

    I really appreciate your photos they have helped a lot. Maybe I can get them sold so they can get their house repaired.

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Marble Trivia

An Old World glass chemist named Arnold Fiedler is responsible for the vivid color combinations that Christensen Agate and Akro Agate marbles are famous for.