Chris Parson Posted August 27, 2021 Report Share Posted August 27, 2021 I was born in 1982 in Sjöbo municipality, Skåne county, Sweden. As a kid I had a big draw string pouch, full of marbles. There were a lot of cat's eyes but there were also my mother's stone marbles from the early 60's. No matter how beautiful a glass marble may be, it can never have the same personal value as my stone marbles. In the Roman age, marbles were made out of actual marble. These were replaced during the 18th century by the cheaper clay marble, which was used till the end end of the 1940's when it no longer could stand the competition of the stone marble who had been on the market since the 1920's. In the beginning of the 1980's the last Swedish marble factory, ”Svenska Kul- och Dockfabriken” (Swedish Marble- and Doll factory), was on the verge of being shut down. The industry was located in Stockholm and owned by the two brothers Åke and Stig Fredgård, who together with their father had started business and ran it for 56 years. According to the brothers, the competition from the manufacturers of Asian glass marbles had become too big. Svenska Kul- och Dockfabriken's marbles display booth at S:t Eriksmässan, Stockholm, in 1946. Factory interior in 1956. Employee Teodor Eriksson and his son Martin in the doorway. A man named Erland Wernersson took over the company and moved it from Stockholm to a dot on the map called Göljahult, outside of Eringsboda, in Blekinge county. I believe that it was here the company changed name to Svenska Stenkulor (Swedish Stone marbles) Erland believed that Swedish children even in the future should be able to play with genuine Swedish stone marbles. In the mid 1980's Erland made 100.000 stone marbles per day and produced 12 million marbles per year through a unique method that he inherited from his predecessors, a method he jokingly called ”the chocolate method”. More on that soon. The embryo of the stone marble was a rape seed, which is about a millimeter in diameter and completely round. The seeds were placed in a large cast iron tumbler, similar to a cement mixer, and saturated with water. Then, little by little and in stages, the seeds were slowly rolled, tumbled and shaped into marbles with a mix of plaster, cement, talc and colour pigments. The complete process took about 24 hours and the colours were added towards the end, before the marbles were laid out to dry. From one batch, Erland could get approximately 30.000 marbles. Erland, in the early/mid 1980's, with two buckets of newly made marbles. So, why was it called ”the chocolate method”? Well, the name came from the fact that the big cast iron tumblers used to belong to the historical Swedish chocolate and candy factory ”Choklad-Thule”, in the making of chocolate pralines. In my research I have come to the conclusion that the tumblers were probably purchased by the Fredgård's when Choklad-Thule expanded their facilities in the mid 1920's. Erland by his tumblers in the early/mid 1980's. I am not completely sure when Erland sold the company but in 1995 a man named Christer Johansson relocated the production to Tollarp in Kristianstad municipality, Skåne county. Christer ran the production just like Erland did, with the same process and the same ”chocolate method”. The difference was that Christer produced 6-7 million marbles per year, in comparison to Erland's 12 million. That's almost a 50% decline. In a magazine article from 1997 I have read that Christer speaks of the lacking interest in marbles and that the Swedish stone marble is fading in popularity. I had the privilege of speaking to the last owner, Lars Nilsson, who took over the production after Christer, around 2008-2010. He ran the production for 10-12 years. During his years at Svenska Stenkulor he sold his marbles online, in his factory store and at fairs and markets. He also opened up the factory for tours, arranged marble tournaments for all ages and made garden marble decorations. He has just turned 68 and have recently sold the company to new owners, who is currently starting up a new facility for the upcoming production. That is all I know so far and I will keep in touch with Lars and keep an eye out for the new owners and their production. Lars in 2016 Bagged marbles in 2016 Some of Lars' garden marble decorations. 4 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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