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1923 French Paper On Making Marbles


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Recently found this 1923 Science de Voyages paper from France. It has a nice article on making what I think are clay marbles.

I have translated the captions next to the images using Google translate. I haven't had time to do the entire article.

Top Picture of Woman

Ball sorting before staining.

Forced to spend in a cramped hallway that their household is, the ball crooked or missing fragment which are eliminated by hand prior to color.

Bottom Picture of Equipment

The coloring of the balls

Placed on the lower tray, the balls will be rolled at high speed by the upper plate in contact with a mixture of sulfur and aniline color that penetrates the stone.


Page 2

Top Picture

Overview of a workshop producing Ball

On the left, the workbook automatically stone cubes. In the center, rolling plateaus in transforming these cubes spheres. Right, the coloring device.

Center Picture

The classification of cubes.

By hopper fed the shovel, the cubes get into the cylinder openwork holes whose diameter gradually increases until the output. Progressing thanks to the rotary motion of the cylinder, the cubes of the cross as it comes in or the size of the holes permits. Each box therefore does not receive as cubes of same dimensions.

Bottom Picture

The breaking of cubic blocks.

The picture shows the typical shape of the double hammer with which, thanks to a large tart eye and wrist, the worker shall debit the blocks into small cubes about 2 inches square.


Top Picture

Counting before packaging.

Of plateaus, twenty parallel lines, are ten row are housed quickly pours ball loose on them. The other slide at the slightest movement, and thus obtained, in less time than it takes to say, two hundred balls counted in any security.


Feel free to translate the rest if you want to! :)


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Not really sure about the clay. The translation is very sketchy. Buy it does look like they are working on stone, and usually stone cubes are ground into round shapes. Maybe the coloring is dyed agates or stones? Not sure, wish I could get a more accurate translation.

I might try to scan the document into one of my form programs which will let me copy and paste it to translate.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting article; thanks for posting.

It's referenced, along with dozens of other papers, in "Colonial Period and Early 19th-Century Children's Toy Marbles" by Richard Gartley and Jeff Carskadden.

Any list member interested in this subject should have a copy of this book.

Available here:


or send me $25 via paypal and I'll send you a copy post-paid. (plus extra postage to outside the USA)

[email protected]

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References are mentioned in the text and then listed alphabetically at the end of the book.

A cursory search failed to find the reference in the text, but the article describes the well documented method of making limestone marbles and dyeing them with colored powder and sulphur.

Bert Cohen once had me smell the sulphur in a small bag of colored limestone marbles he obtained from Germany.


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  • 2 years later...

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