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In this interactive topic we will be discussing the economics of Marble Collecting and the intrinsic value of marbles as a whole.

Our over all structure is based on the following building blocks: Please confine your responses to the following block topics, if you answer more than one topic please be sure to place the correct heading (as numbered below) before each section. This is not designed to be a definitive answers section, just a food for thought over all for the community! The topics are not arranged according to any scheme or methodology. Please try to address your answers in terms of, individual items, collecting marbles in general, and your personal ideology.

The Building Block Topics

1. Collectability - what contributes to the collectablity of the marbles in general and the value of the marbles you collect personally.

2. Value of marbles - what drives the value of marbles over all within the collector market.

3. Futures - How will marbles hold up in the future (this is a speculative topic share your theory, thoughts and ideas.)

4. Historicity - How does the history of marbles, or a particular marble / marbles impact its value.

5. Vintage / Antique - How does the age type of a marble (handmade, machine made) impact the over all value and collectability of individual items, the genere as a whole, the community.

6. Modern / Contemporary - How does newness factor into the value of the marble, collectability, and contribute to the community. New here refers to ANY new type, handmade or machine made, please specify when contributing.

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Marblenomics (lets remember I coined this phrase)


As a Collector of 10 years, I am a newbie to these proceedings. As such I can only offer some vague generalization as to the collectability of marbles as a general class, and draw upon the shallow waters of my 46 years of experience with which to compose these thoughts.

Point one should reflect upon both gender and financial means within this category. Since most collectors are male (not chauvinistic here, this is my experience may not match up with yours) in my experience, the qualities and differentiation in the meaning of collectable is pulled in different directions, at least at some level. Most female collectors see prettiness, and color are key components, thats not to say male collectors totally discount this. But many of the softer gender select colorful lots of marbles on sheer color composition, I have seen lots of very colorful vitro cats go for enormous $ sums, and without exception in my experience they are all female bidders. More recently most of my customers for the pastel colored Jabos, women again. These are just limited example, but they point out differences in the motivating factors of the genre.

So it would seem that gender can and does play a role in collectability, since the final arbiter of the deciding factors has to be male or female. But the idea of color, composition, intricacy of pattern, design, size, origin, and age all contribute to collectability. One collector begins with the types he/she played with (or perhaps were forbidden to play with- as was the case with my mother), another is attracted to the value of the market and the prospect of making money in it, and a new collector is born.

I am both a collector and a seller. My personal collection is based upon an aesthetic appreciation for the marbles I collect. But as a seller, I value the input of other, and need to have an eye for the perceived values, other impose upon the marbles as the arbiters to which I merchandise my wares. As anyone who has started an auction on ebay can attest to, a marble will not always bring the $ value imposed by, book, breed, or broker. Alan Basinet (marblealan) attests to this (http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/an-interview-with-antique-marble-collector-alan-basinet/) a marbles normally valued at $50 may sell for $5 or 1/10th. While a modern machine made may sell of $50. The value and collectability of the individual marble in question is impacted by a slew of operant values- time of day, quality of pictures, heck even the State of the Union. But the lesson to be learned is the collectability is only formed into a consensus once a group of collectors takes aim, stakes claims and begins competing to own or gain the items being collected.

For this reason, marbles of the vintage class will garner a better than average price, since the science of supply and demand will increase the value of the marble (provided they don't find a dig where thousands have been unearthed and the market becomes flooded, this is very reason Diamonds cost so much, since they are among the most common of gems found on the planet, yet tens of thousands are stored away hidden from public view, to increase market value.) The marble will however also meet its highest price based upon the Arbiters willingness and means to purchase the items, and the proliferation of competitive buyers within the limited market.

Over all collectability is driven by the ability and willingness to spend capitol on the items we wish to collect. For some folks as Generativity (psycho-social) sets in they look at a marble they would not have parted with in years past, over and against the legacy they are leaving behind and they part with the marble with various hopes, determinations, or objectives. After all we could be buried with our marbles, but some unscrupulous collector, or money hound might just dig then up along with us. Collecting is a kind of orchestrated hording, and as any number of popular TV shows on the air currently demonstrate, hording is a psychological dysfunction. That's right I am saying marble collectors are a dysfunctional bunch (send your hate mail to [email protected].) But seriously, aren't you just a little off? I know I am, and I have a half living room strewn with marbles, bags, lights, boxes, and other related paraphernalia all over the place. My wife keeps the balance for me but reminding me to clean up. Comon, how many fellas you know who tell tales of rooms filled with boxes of marbles.

Collectability has a lot of different features, depths, and richness. It's not a homogeneous, vanilla, out of the box, one size fits all, proposition. For that reason there are great contentions within the community. But make no mistake its a community, because if we all held that one marble in the highest esteem, and we all got one kept it hidden in our pocket, purse, drawer, pillow case, flour sack, mattress, freezer, or mantel place we would be more like a cult than a community. Collectability is a concept in progress for every collector and its the individual egocentric composition which allows for an ebb and flow of different ideas in relationship to value which drives the collectability band wagon we are on.

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I thought there was some considerable depth in your marble appreciation and this attest to the fact. I doubt though that you'll be able to strictly have your participants respond in a thoroughly organized manner which you've laid out as nice as it may seem. Our thoughts or at least mine overlap considerable from one subject heading to another. Anyway, I've got to sleep on this one before I lay down any personal opinions about this 'n' that.

I will say without any great consideration and contemplation that marble value is extremely fluid(you allude to this) and a major contributing factor is the individual holding the marble and his/her depth of knowledge/experience in the marble community totally outside of any market value or intrinsic value currently associated with the marble. I have seen this work time and time again in my own sales because I generally know my marbles and have had some history with them.

This should be a fun Thread. David

Edit: Alan's Post done practically simultaneously with mine.....Wuzz-Up Wid Dat! David

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Let's see guys, the mini-Video is expressing your complete and total bewilderment to the Post beginning this thread? Thinking the best of you I'll conclude that you are 100% in congruence with the thoughts expressed and suggested for consideration but you still are reserving the right to be non-plussed. Well, so am I; I'm hardly immune to mind-numbing when one's head starts tripping on marbles. Hey! "Twist one up for me!" David

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I doubt though that you'll be able to strictly have your participants respond in a thoroughly organized manner which you've laid out as nice as it may seem. Our thoughts or at least mine overlap considerable from one subject heading to another. Anyway, I've got to sleep on this one before I lay down any personal opinions about this 'n' that.

I agree wholeheartedly. Why even start a thread like this one? BECAUSE I believe everyone on here can contribute to this thread in a meaningful community enhancing way! The sum of our collective knowledge, EVEN when divergent or outright opposite in nature, contributes to the community so we all win, if we constrain ourselves and respond according to the Topic outline.

We need to communicate our individual ideology on marbles. No debate, this is where you say what you believe, and why in response to the topics. It's the only way to educate the uneducated. Newbies can PM and email and if they live nearby, talk about marbles and these topic. And they are. But we need to amass this information together from all sources making it more valuable.

Here is a for instance. "Marble Lashes" - say what? What are they, how do they contribute to the market, value, and collectability? Are they limited to old vintage styles, or do moderns machine made's exhibit them? (I know the answer to all these questions in MY ESTIMATION but what about yours?) I'm sure to some extent we over lap in our appreciation and understanding, but without the direction of discussion on the diversity, I may never learn to appreciate the subtitle or dramatic distinctions.

That's why I started this thread. The conversation lacks structure, and it needs structure. Unless you all want to just founder around from one topic to another, I mean its great you got marbles in the mail and I love eye candy as much as the next person, but what I love even more is well throughout and presented thoughts and ideas on the subject of marbles and the romance we call marble collecting.

I seriously think this kind of thread should be made permanent and the topic outlines adhered to. Moderators should remove the content not on topic, and thus a catalog will begin to grow. If I have the time I might even put up a marble knowledge wiki, but I just finished a 128hr two week stint, and man this week looks to be near 55hr more.

I have a knack for asking the right questions and drawing out information, my Socratic roots showing. For what its worth, lets see how the thread goes.

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Let's see guys, the mini-Video is expressing your complete and total bewilderment to the Post beginning this thread? Thinking the best of you I'll conclude that you are 100% in congruence with the thoughts expressed and suggested for consideration but you still are reserving the right to be non-plussed.

That's how I saw it... Though, not sure about the 100% thing....

It is hysterical!! One picture can speak a lot of words!!! LOL

There's a LOT to those 2 posts!! I'm headed out to DC tomorrow to bring my son home from school. I may not get back here til Sunday. So, I'll have some time to think about it, too...

I'm betting there's a few people who will read this and freak out... If so, please, just click out and move to another thread.

Not everyone is cut out for every conversation... That doesn't mean that those who wish to have the discussion have to be silenced or ridiculed.

Let's take it slow. Put some thought into it and see where it goes...

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One night ain't hardly enough to rally ones thoughts into any sort of a coherent mass. Of course receiving 94 (including a bonus of 19) Frankie's Marbles the same day that this Thread hit the Boards threw me an add'l curve. By the way, thank you very much BibleFreak. They truly live up to their advanced publicity. I'm happy! This was a landmark marble run! David

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Uh....um......well.....I'm just a newbie, and my head hurts. I'll jump in later.

Your comments may be most apropos! Please don't feel you must have a marble PHD (none of us do, despite what some may think) to be a valuable contributor! The newest of us can help the oldest of us, see things in a new light. Just and the inverse is equal in possibility.

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OK here goes I am of the softer gender -Ha I have never been acused of that before and I am trying to keep my teeth from gritting- and yes I like some of the pastel marbles. I like pink in particular. I think I should collect pink marbles. Here is the thought process to collecting pink marbles. As I have learned about marbles and seen all the varieties and colors out there. I have come to this conclusion.

Men (in the past) were the marble makers, and being gender driven probably did not make too many "feminized" colors ie: pink, there fore less pink marbles available. Men have been the bulk of the collectors in the past. I believe a good portiuon of us "collectors" are baby boomers. Unfortunatly for us baby boomers we were raised to be gender biazed, over the years many of us have been enlightened but we still in our hard drives have a little bit of that pink is for girls, blue is for boys going on whether we like it or not.

Now more and more woman are stepping up to the plate. I see as many responses from woman here as I do from men and many of the newer memebers my self included who respond are woman. I see a growing demand for pink marbles.

I want to collect pink marbles because I see their value increasing with the number of woman joining the marble collecting world. I would like what I collect to have increasing value. I believe in the future there will be a larger demand for the "pastel" colors. I may even want to start collecting lavenders.

I myself love flame marbles, any flame doesn't matter, just let it be a flame. I will eventually have some nice ones to hold and look at and dream over. But they will be for me, not the future as the pink marbles will be. I guess I like the fact that for me the pink marbles will be a long term gamble. I like trying to figure things out and then proving my hypothisis. or having it disproved. Because I will then figure out why, that is my approach to marble collecting for the future.


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Penelope is clearly 'pretty in pink.'

Re. value I see it very much as shift changing. And that is because in some measure the underlying propelling component of price is a lot more personal and intrinsic than is commonly revealed in closing prices. There is a visceral response to marbles that is deep-seated in the American psyche when it comes to marbles. I see this more in marbles than in most other main line collectibles. This is because marbles for many of us have been rooted in our childhood. Even people that don't collect marbles have extremely poignant stories to tell about their formative marble experiences. I've had people come up to me time and time again when I've been set up at a show or flea market in any number of states and out of the blue have to(Literally are driven to...) tell me their personal story as it relates to marbles. So you can imagine how this works subconsciously on each of us who have come to admire marbles in another sphere of our lives.

Pretty is good! I know it when I see it. And in defense of my feminine side I must say that I very much like the pastels and pinks and lavenders; they have a special subtleness.

I am upbeat on the future for marbles. There has been a major resurgence in marble play amongst youngsters. This bodes well. And right now the level of marble excitement is about as high as I've ever seen it. Hard to imagine it lessening much except for maybe ups and down cyclically in certain quarters. As for marbles as an investment while this may appear ludicrous to some I firmly believe that with a strong knowledgeable base and an eye for 'pretty' you can't go wrong buying marbles. Of course being able to navigate the marble market effectively helps. I'm so far zero-capable when it comes to eBay but I have the feeling that if I do venture into that realm I may be able to kick ass!


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In addition to regular ups and downs of the market place, there's the possibility of parallel universe type futures for marbles.

People do their retro thing, and it's possible that marbles could become a craze again if they're in the right place at the right time. Could become wildly popular for a couple of years and create a whole new group of people nostalgic for that time in their youth when certain marbles were must haves. Hey, it could happen.

Or by some quirk of fate or marketing some other toy could be picked for the retro craze, and that one could be the one which gets the nostalgic bump for the next generation or two.

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This is so true. All the more reason to write to the USPS nationally and see to it that they are regularly encouraged to have a series done on marbles. In fact, it should be a joint effort in which from our collections and from the artistry of current marble makers we already have a prospectus with photographs and stamp descriptions that will finally convince them to issue marble stamps in whatever denomination. I'd be happy with anything. Lotta people still use stamps.

Then like you say it could come out-of-the-blue because just the right combinations happened and were sufficiently parallel and ready to warp to the point when they come together. I'd say that the existing groundswell of marble enthusiasm could be the tipping point. Hell, marbles are hot! Maybe people don't have any money now but marbles are still hot.....David

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  • 2 weeks later...

Might be fair to give this thread another chance on Pg. 1.

Particularly when talking about older marbles I've always felt that 'Historicity' as Matt lists it can be high on the list in fixing a marbles price. Not just being able to identify a marble but to be able to accurately put it in its historical context lends the marble a certain stature and venerableness. The individual marbles attachment to time and place are an integral factor in its value, of course, tempered with all the other concurrent value enhancements(demand, desirability, aesthetics, size, condition, rarity, et al). David

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I'm back! Re. Modern/Contemporary - I believe new marbles either machine-made or hand made both contribute towards advancing the hobby either with a positive or negative value component as their appearance on the scene reflects on past marble accomplishments. The positive or negative effect can be actual or it can be only as perceived while at the same time having the same result. And this effect may be short-lived or accumulatively disastrous to whatever existing market is affected. Major factors in the degree to which these effects occur are, of course, our marble knowledge, our marble prejudices, our marble preferences....you name it. In the final analysis it is what we make of it. Therefore, I prefer to keep an open mind and trust to the good intentions of marble makers such that in the main their motivations are for the advancement of the hobby with a healthy respect for a buck 'well earned.' David

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