There’s a lot to be learned about marbles. And note the ‘s’ ending. I’m not speaking of the stone we use sometimes for kitchen counters or fireplace surrounds. Rather, those little glass balls we used to play games with when we were kids. Those marbles. With an s.
Actually, I was personally never very good at the game of marbles. Not enough patience. Maybe. Probably. The coloured glass was very pretty though, especially if there were swirls in it. But marbles didn’t really hold my attention. Until now.
You see, I have been finding them throughout our restoration garden. If you aren’t up on the story of our garden, have a read of any of our Big Dig series (1, 2 and 3 – links below). It’s a never ending, or at least seems it, archaeological dig.
To continue, our garden has been handing over quite a few little treasures, the odd rusty nail, quite a few little glass bottles and rather a number of marbles. Now any find in our garden (caveat – that is not broken) gets due care and attention. Glee from me, as it is like digging up buried treasure. Sarcastic humouring by Pumpjack as he dutiful asks me if it is Roman. (One day I hope to surprise him.)
Actually, overall, most of our finds have turned out to be from the early 20th century, 1900 – 1930 time frame, with a few dotted either side. We still haven’t discovered the history of our house, or why we keep finding things, such as buried walls and stone steps, a cement basin and a lavoir to date. Our guess is that our garden once had a more industrial use. Whether personal to the house or for the village, we hope to find out someday.
As part of building my Hugelkulture raised bed I have been taking rich soil from the filled in lavoir. It has about 30 years or more of mulch, and other weird things, buried in it. And that includes marbles. Two found so far in the past couple days. One large one with a swirl through it, and one green normal size one. Both, I would hazard a guess at initial covered in dirt look, hand blown from the 1920s.
And you see that’s the thing, when you start digging stuff up, in an archaeological way, you kind of wish to know more about it. How old it is, for certain, but also it opens a window into worlds you never knew before.
I will note that when researching marbles it is important to include that ‘s’, otherwise you find yourself looking at a lot of kitchen counter top designs. Better yet, ‘game of marbles’ focuses the research even better.
Delving in, there are whole websites dedicated to figuring out what type, as well as age. Such as: imarbles and Alan’s Encyclopedia Marble Reference Archive, two of my go to sites for researching what I find. (See, told you, a whole new world!)
Most marbles today are mass produced by machine. But in the distant, and lesser distant, past they were hand blown. Some tell tales are air bubbles in the glass, and sometimes even a pontil mark (where they break the glass).
All our marbles, and other warranted finds, have made it in to our Etsy Shop. And although Pumpjack initially scoffed, it turns out our marbles have been selling to collectors around the world. Not quite a Roman find (yet), but still quite neat, as well as educational, finds.
Big Dig 1 – The Patio (area full of broken tiles, old bottles and 4 marbles)
Big Dig 2 – The Lavoir (old laundry area full of mulch, odd wire, rusty metal bits, and so far 2 marbles)
Big Dig 3 – The Duck Enclosure (area of all sorts of strange laid stone and cement for some unknown purpose, and 2 marbles)
Home and Garden Restoration Pictures on Flickr