Where Agates Come From

Three Handcut Banded Agate MarblesMy favorite non-glass vintage marbles, agates, required much skill and labor to produce. Their high price reflected this. Many kids could not afford to own one. Early machine made marble producers would later try to mimic these agates of yore, in more fragile but affordable glass.

Unlike their contemporary handmade clay commies or glassies, agates were perfectly round, extremely hard, and heavy. That made them deadly accurate shooters. Shot by a pro, agates could split lesser marbles in half and then “stick” in the dirt with hardly a roll. Such marbles could withstand years, even generations, of rugged marble game combat.

I recently stumbled upon a terrific article from the June 3, 1882 edition of Scientific American, entitled Where Agates Come From. It will give you some appreciation for what went into these magnificent marbles.

2 Responses to “Where Agates Come From”

  1. Steve Says:

    My favorite, non-glass vintage marbles as well. Great article. I have the classic bunch inherited from Grandfather that you hear tell. Makes me remember him and what his boyhood was like. Thanks for your entry!

  2. Carl Petersen Says:


    I’m curious if you would be interested in sponsoring our film. I co-wrote “All the Marbles” – a fun dark children’s story, with a talented director whose last film won several top awards. I’m really excited about the concept and hope you’ll be too.

    Click this link for more information about the project:


    Warm Regards,
    Carl Petersen


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Marble Trivia

All marbles are spherical, but not all spheres are marbles. A good definition for a marble is any sphere less than about three inches wide originally sold as a toy marble.