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Esperanza’s World – Marble Center

Esperanza’s World – Marble Center

Activities / Teacher Resources

Marble History

People have been playing marbles and marble-like games for thousands of years.  Historians believe that marbles started with cave people playing with small rounded pebbles or balls of natural clay.  Clay balls have been found in the tombs of Egypt, in Native American burial grounds and in the ancient Aztec pyramids.  For thousands of years, marbles have been one of the world’s most popular, interesting and entertaining games.

  • In 1815 the earliest book on marbles was published in England; according to the book, marbles were made of china, clay, glass or even real marble at that time. In 1848 a German glass blower invented the marble scissors (a mold to make marbles) that revolutionized the process of making marbles. In 1890 the first machine made marbles were made in Germany and later that year in the United States – probably in Akron, Ohio.
  • In 1950 several changes occurred in marble making. First, in Japan, the cats eyes marble was created by injecting colored glass into the normal marble. Then in the U.S. people found out that if you bake your marbles before they cool you will get a crackled effect.
  • Perhaps the biggest event in marbles occurred in 1960 when Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon) described the Earth out of his spaceship window as a “big blue marble.”
  • In the 1980s magnetic marbles became a sensation because of the “Toys in Space” program.

There has been a National Marbles Tournament since 1922; for many of those years it has been held in Wildwood, New Jersey.  The group of girls and boys that compete in the tournament are fourteen years and younger with male and female divisions.  The tournament is four days long.  The National Marbles Tournament’s official game is Ringer, a game that originated from one of the oldest marble games Ringtaw.

Today, electronic marble games can be played on the Internet.