Antique marble balls: boulder, bonker, masher, popper, taw, crock, hogger, bumboozer. Who would have imagined that the little glass antique marble balls that many of us played with as children are famous worldwide? And do antique marble balls have their own terminology and bibliography? There are countless websites about rules, which can also be invented on the spur of the moment. Above are some of the names for various types of marble.
Origins unknown of antique marble balls
At the beginning of the twentieth century small balls of stone similar to marbles in shape were discovered during excavations in Pakistan. They were also found in Ancient Egypt and in Rome, commonly made of clay or stone. A sarcophagus of around the year 300 shows children playing the game with nuts.
It’s unknown where antique marble balls actually originated, but some glass marbles were described as ‘made in Germany’.
There is even an international championship of antique glass marble balls, its origin dating back for several centuries. On Good Friday every year, since 1932, twenty teams from around the world compete in a town in Sussex in the UK. In recent years the German team has won several times.
Ohio leader of marble production
The game with antique marbles balls became popular throughout the US. Ceramic marbles first appeared around the 1870s. Previously in 1846 a German glassblower invented the device know as ‘marble scissors’ to perfect the production. Producers in Ohio made the first clay marbles in the 1890s. Shortly thereafter the first US-produced antique glass marbles appeared.
Apart from the numerous games a form of ‘solitaire’ can be played using an expressly made round wooden tray with holes for the antique marble balls. The idea is to remove by elimination a ball at a time, leaving just one single ball at the centre. This is much more difficult than it sounds, but very absorbing ! Websites exist dedicated exclusively to antique marbles balls and some of the rarer glass models can sell for hundreds of dollars.
PS – a curiosity: the slang expression ”losing one’s marbles” refers to the gradual deterioration of one’s mental faculties ! (by Susy)