How to Collect Marbles

By Contributor
Art glass marbles are a popular choice.

Collect marbles for beauty or investment. Antique marbles are still available, and contemporary art glass marbles are being made daily. Some of the best glass artisans of today are making lampwork and swirl art glass marbles for sale. A little knowledge in collecting marbles can turn your collection into an investment.

Choose a niche. Decide on an era and style of marbles you want to collect. It is easier to learn a small area of marble collecting than to try to learn about all kinds of marbles. Choose whether you want to collect antique or modern, swirls, sulphides, lampwork or a special maker. Many of the laticcino swirls were made in Germany, but most of the early 20th-century marbles were American-made by companies like Akro Agate and Christensen. New art glass marbles are often from paperweight artists like David Salazar and Paul Stankard.

Learn about your marbles category or niche. Spend some quality time reading on the Internet or at the public library, so you can develop knowledge in the era and kind of marbles you choose to collect.

See what marbles are available and at what price. Hopefully, you have chosen a niche that is somewhat available at a price you can afford.

Collect by quality. Whatever niche you choose, quality is the dominant characteristic for searches. Marbles that are near-mint condition are collectible. Marbles with dings, fractures or significant scuffs are not investment marbles. A contemporary marble needs to be perfect; vintage marbles may have some minor damage.

Use a blacklight and a magnifier. Look over any orb before you purchase to check for internal fractures and external damage. Everything you need to know about a marble cannot be seen without help. That help comes via a loupe or magnifier and a blacklight. Neon marbles that glow with the blacklight are usually more valuable than non-neons, so that is a side benefit of the use of the blacklight. The blacklight will also help see internal damage.

Collect marbles by color. More colors in a marble usually make it more valuable. Most marbles are one, two or three colors, so if you see marbles with four or five colors, they are likely more valuable. Also, companies like Christensen produced marbles in unique colors.

Collect marbles that are large or small. Peewee marbles and large marbles are more valuable, because they are not as common as 5/8-inch or 7/8-inch size. Peewee handmade swirls were also more difficult to make than the larger ones, so there are fewer available.

Things Needed

  • Blacklight
  • Loupe or magnifier