Antique glass marbles are highly collectible, from handmade examples by German glassmakers of the 1800s to vintage marbles made by machine in the early 20th century by U.S. companies like Christensen, Peltier Glass, Akro Agate, and Vitro Agate. Many collectors obsess over old marbles because they remember playing with them as children.
The game, marbles, originated in the Netherlands during the 1500s and 1600s. To make playing pieces for the game, the Dutch began to grind down semiprecious stones such as marble (hence, the name) and limestone until the rocks formed perfect spheres. Then, the Germans began to shape marbles out of agate.
During the 1800s, Europeans began to produce clay marbles, using different ceramics techniques. Cheap antique clay marbles—which were so common at the time that they were known as “commies”—were made from a low-fire process and were often not even painted or dyed. They were just ugly, round brown marbles for kids to play with and lose.
Rare antique clay marbles were glazed or decorated, and only wealthy, aristocratic children got to play with such beauties. A specific variation of these marbles, known as "scenic chinas" were made with a white earthenware, which was high-fired and either burnished or glazed with geometric patterns or images of flowers, landscapes, or boats on the water. These are so hard to find that they often sell for five figures.
Ultimately, old glass marbles are the most collectible. Antique glass marbles were first made in Thuringen region in Germany, which was known for its glass toys. Marbles would be created by a glass blower heating up a transparent glass cane, clear or colored, and then attaching slender rods of opaque colored glass. This glass would be fired and pulled into a single cane from 20 to 50 inches long, which would then be twisted. The artisan would cut the cane into marbles using "marble scissors," developed in the 1840s, which had a metal cup that pushed the glass into a sphere...
Antique Glass Marbles