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Online Historical Resources For Marble Research


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I just found a new one today. Later I'll try to add ones I've used before.

Australian newspaper archive

Not only is this a free resource but you might be able to help make it better. I did a search for "agate marbles" and got a 1925 article which was translated as Kcal Agate Marbles. That was exciting, because what I wanted to find was actually California Agate marbles. Wellllll, it turned out that what the paper had actually said was "Real Agate Marbles".

A little disappointing but still a good find. And then after I made a note of it, I fixed the translation. The site invites you to do that. It was translated electronically in bulk, and now humans have a chance to fix the little errors as they come across them.

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Some of the sites I've used:


Census, etc.
  • Ancestry.com -- another premium site. This one has a two-week free trial period. You can do census searches here. Many other records are available. I also found I could get larger copies of the same newspapers I had found at newspaperarchive.com. If the large versions are available at newspaper.com, I need help figuring out how to get to them.
Toy Catalogs
  • Antique Toy Archives -- they have lots and lots of pdf files. Many marble ads can be found in unlikely places. I found a 1914 Akro ad in a bundle of ads devoted to toys with bells in them
PhotosBooks, magazines, etc.
  • Google Books -- you can get to some technical resources here. Some are full-view. Some may be harder to access but usually you'll find a list of libraries which have them.
There are more I need to remember, or stumble upon again.

Some Google thoughts:

Going to advanced preferences on Google to limit output to PDF format is one way to get a higher percentage of historical items in your search results.

In Google Books, sometimes the texts are restricted to views of "snippets". You can sometimes tease out the bulk of an article with creative use of keywords. If you quote the first or last part of one snippet, and do a Google search on that, you might be able to ease your way into another snippet, and get more material to quote to ease your way into the next.

One more thing to keep in mind is that if you find only a title on one site, you might be able to find a full view version of the same thing on another site. Google Books gives only a little peek at the report on the lawsuit filed against MJ Gropper and Sons, the suit where it was declared misleading to call glass marbles "onyx". However, regular google searches come up with the full text of both the report on the original filing and the report on the outcome of the case.

Oh yes, don't forget about offline options, such as major libraries. One might call or email them if one cannot visit.

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  • 8 months later...

Life Magazine is on Google Books now. They have some marbles articles. Here are the ones I know of right off hand. (They also have one with a mouse collecing marbles, I think, but that's not quite the same thing. ;-)

(click on pix to get to issues)

May 10, 1937 (just the cover I think)


April 25, 1938


June 22, 1942


June 21, 1947


June 26, 1950


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  • 6 years later...

Library of Congress Chronicling America : Historic American Newspapers

Keep in mind the digitized papers date up to 1922 only. The trick I find to narrow results is to use the advanced search option "with the words" so you can return results that contain the words, for example, "marbles taw" within 5 (or 10) words from each other. Otherwise you'll drown in results.

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Coolness. Good advice. I have a list of phrases I check, such as "glass aggies". Well, not so much a list, as scattered notes with different phrases. [Edit: No, "glass aggies" didn't turn up any good results this time.]

What is it with 1922?

The New York Times also only goes up to 1922 for its free archives. And the LA Times also splits its archives after 1922. (I think it charges whether before that line or after, but they're two separate collections.)

At first, I thought that had something to do with copyrights expiring, which made me think that every year we'd get a new year of papers added to the free section, but the 1922 date has held steady at the New York Times since I first started checking it almost ten years ago.

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I also like to search for "Figured Marbles" -- that gets me to a 1907 ad at the elephind link.

And then basically I pick up whatever phrases the old papers have and then wander around from there.

Along with Figured Marbles, in Pensacola in 1907 you can get Klondyke Glass Marbles with gold spiral colors inside. They're about a penny apiece. :thup:

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