On the Web: Lost your marbles? Find them on line

Many things have changed between antique and modern marble production. Though there are still artisans creating hand-made marbles today, modern machines crank out millions of the little glass playthings, sometimes sold for as little as 99 cents for 100. Esthetically, these mass-produced little toys just don’t compare to the hand-made ones.

The charm and beauty of hand-made marbles rivals that of other highly collectible hand-made goods such as fine jewelry and pottery; mass-produced marbles are lackluster by comparison. The skill, patience and artistry involved in making marbles are remarkable. You need only to inspect and reflect upon some of these tiny pieces of art to be somewhat overwhelmed by their creation.

And what a wonderful collectible, too: You don’t need a warehouse to store marbles, there are countless specimens to collect — no two hand-made marbles are exactly alike — and the prices are surprisingly affordable for such intricate and desirable pieces.

Here are some recent vintage marble auction results from eBay:

First up we have eBay item 120261752211: a 1.644-inch glass antique German onionskin marble, dated from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, that reached a final sale price of $40.99 on May 18, 2008. Three bidders vied for the blue, green and white prize that was described as having “a flat area on one side from a residual hit mark. It will still display nicely from at least 2 angles.”

EBay item 150247057541 is an “antique divided open core handmade swirl marble,” which had a starting bid of $6.99, and four bidders pushed the final price to $20.50 at the auction’s close May 18, 2008. The .88-inch red, white, blue and yellow-banded piece was described as a “separated divided core marble, lightly buffed but still with one pontil … and no separation of the internal bands at either pole. Beautiful clear, bubble filled glass, with one bubble actually embedded into one of the internal core bands, and several elongated air bubbles along with a lot of smaller ones.”

Next up is a “Huge 2.029” Antique German Marble” (item 120261783757). Two bidders engaged in a 10-bid bidding war for this late 1800s-early 1900s piece, then a third bidder entered the scene with fewer than three minutes to go on May 18 and sniped to win the prize for a final price of $76.99. This marble has lots of air bubbles and ribbon colors of blue, pink, yellow, and white, surrounded by sets of alternating yellow and white bands. “It has some ribbon separation on one end and a suspended bit of crystallized glass in one area.”

Not all marbles are made of glass. Marbles made from pottery are also popular and collectible, though not as popular as glass marbles. Next up we have a lot of 12 Bennington Pottery marbles (item 330235507003). Measuring at just 7/16 to ½ inch each, these pieces have a smaller size than the marbles we’ve discussed thus far. Three bidders made eight bids, pushing the starting price from $3.99 to a final price of $20.19 — a reasonable price for a small collection.

Last, but in no regard least, we have an “antique German black banded Lutz marble” (item 300223876807) that closed May 17, 2008, at $135.83. Starting at $9.99, three bidders placed just three bids before the final sale price was reached. The marble measures .606 inch and has “a few fleabites/pinpricks, a few small subsurface hitmarks and minor surface wear.” The seller provided a very short, simple, and to-the-point description and a lot of images showing the piece from several angles, which is a necessity for executing the most successful online auction possible.

Until next time, happy collecting!

More Images:

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This Bennington marble collection sold recently on ebay. Notice the "eyes" where they touched during firing.
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1.644-inch glass antique German onionskin marble. Even in less-than-perfect condition, it brought a respectable price.
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This marble has lots of air bubbles and ribbon colors of blue, pink, yellow, and white, surrounded by sets of alternating yellow and white bands.
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"Antique divided open core handmade swirl marble."
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Antique German black banded Lutz marble.

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