How to Identify Marbles

By eHow Contributor
vintage glass marbles are art glass
images from the author

Identifying marbles is a fun hobby, and can take a lifetime to know all the different kinds available. Marbles have evolved over the years from a game for children to play to a collectible form of glass and art glass. Many marbles are not glass, though, and they are also interesting. Anything in the shape of an orb is a marble to me, and holds my interest with the artistic merit of this art form.

latticino transparent swirl

Identify marbles by art glass.

Look for art glass marbles. There are many that were handmade in Germany up until about World War II, and they have latticino canes in a swirl. There are many different kinds of latticino swirls, and they are identified by the center. Some are called naked core, some solid core, and latticino core.

opaque lemon swirl marble

Identify opaque glass.

Find opaque glass marbles. Many of the good older marbles are opaque, not transparent, and lighting does not reveal the center. These marbles are glass, not stone.

stone marble with a nice design

Look for crockery or stone marbles.

See if you can find marbles that are not glass. Bennington marbles are a crockery, and many marbles are made of stone.

transparent corkscrew

Identify glass marbles by the swirl.

Find corkscrews. A corkscrew has an opaque swirl that runs completely around the marble from top to bottom. There are transparent and opaque swirls, too.

opaque yellow flame

Identify the flame marbles.

Know the flame design in marbles. Flames are usually older and are collectible marbles.

calligraphy marble

Identify the unusual.

Find some collectible marbles that have less-common names. A calligraphy marble looks like it has squiggles of writing.

run-of-the-mill marbles

Identify the commons and new marbles.

Recognize the run-of-the-mill marbles that have no significant value. These are usually not very attractive, newer than the 1960s, machine made, produced in mass, and often imported. They often have fine bubbles in the glass, and the quality is poor.

Bennington Crockery Marble

Identify marbles by comparison.

Find marbles that you think might have value, and compare them to pictures on the internet. Like any glass or art glass, condition and rarity are key to the value of marbles.

Check condition of a marble, too.

While identifying a marble, look with a magnifying glass to see if it has "eyelashes" or little dings. You will be surprised how much damage the older used marbles often have. Since condition is related to value, it is helpful to identify the condition along with the kind of marbles.