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A Controversial Thread


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Been talking to someone ... (hi Someone!) ... and we tossed around some theories about why some marbles are hard to get a definition for ...

Marbles where if you post to ask a question about them, the thread is pretty much guaranteed to jump into the same discussion which happened the last time a question was asked about them a few months earlier. Never moving ahead. And leaving the person who posted the question feeling a bit shaken.

So this is a thread to bravely discuss some of those marble types ... and try to get to the reasons for why particular types seem to cause friction. There could be different reasons for different marbles.

For example, the ringer. The other day Bo asked a very carefully phrased question about them to get past the usual issues ... and you could hear the echoes. And then there's the superboy.

A common difficulty seems to be that some people don't want a name used at all. They may object to a specific name, or they may be fighting a general tide toward creating new names. While others are ready to say, "this name is in use, so what does it mean to the people who use it?" Then the too-easy answer is likely to be, "It means money!" Sure, it does. But that's not an inherently bad thing. Hype and name recognition are part of the market. MFC, CAC and Akro all did it most deliciously (and somewhat humorously). If they weren't successful at it, would we be talking about marbles now?

So, accepting that a name is used, for whatever reason, and accepting that some people will object ... what's does the name mean to the well-meaning people who use it? Is there some ideal example of it? What is a meaningful range of variation for it?

Another problem occurs when a name is used in more than one way. For example, chocolate oxblood. Some are adamant that it should only be used for one particular marble type, but I've seen two distinct usages over the several years I've been watching it. An older example in that category is moon or moonie. It's been used in many ways over the years.

One more example which often starts long discussions is Joseph's coat.

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This must be very confusing to the newbie! So the question might be asked, do the ends ever justify the means? Why can't we use the general description along with the general construction as the two most vital points in naming a marble? After that, if a name has already stuck then we are doomed to live with it, right or wrong.

In the case of the Superboy, it is clearly a cut and dry issue. First we use the description followed by the construction, and when compared to the example in question we can use logic based on the criterion. Superboy's are blue base with orange-looking ribbons which were from the red and yellow of a Superman that mixed and blended to make the orange.

However, there are some Supermen that have the same blended orange on some of the ribbons, but not on all of the ribbons, leaving ribbons of unadulterated pure dark red as one of the colors on the blue base. In this type example, it is clear to me that this is still a Superman, not a boy. The one single and clearly defined difference to me is that one is a two color color base NLR and the other is a distinct three color color base NLR.

Please, this is only my observation and opinion. I will add some pix soon to illustrate my ideas. Thanks for looking!!

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Roger, that's cool.

I've honestly never come close to sorting out superboys before. I've been afraid to try. I've looked at those threads and thought, "maybe later". There was so much passion and I wasn't close to seeing what the issues were. So, I closed the door and tiptoed away.

As you know it takes a lot to make me tiptoe away from a subject, but superboys have had the power to make me do it.

Now that you gave me a clear idea to get my mind around, I felt a little better prepared and went back and reread what was said in the last superboy showdown. I still haven't reread the whole thread but I got as far as what Mary M said purists would say about superboys. It's different from your version.

This would be a point where the discussion could get interesting, or could get dangerous when people get passionate, or could get very chaotic if people aren't careful. Wouldn't it be sweet if we could stick to interesting? And have people who believe in superboys say which version of the superboy they have adopted. Things like that.

So, here's where I see you: If it started out to be a superman, it's still a superman as long as it has three colors. blue, red and orange means still a superman.

Then if I have read her post correctly, the version Mary attributed to the purists was that it had to have the correct three colors to be a superman. Had to have blue, red and yellow. If it didn't have clear (edit: distinct, "true") yellow, it wasn't a man anymore. It became a boy.

Have I stated these versions of the name correctly?

Where do other variations fall? Like what if it's blue, yellow and orange? Is that a superman for you Roger? Would that be a superboy to the people Mary described?

What if it has blue, red, yellow and orange? Superman easily for you. Would that be a superboy to some?

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Thank you Steph! "...if it's blue, yellow and orange? Is that a superman for you Roger?" To answer your question I will use another NLR example, the Flaming Dragon. A pea-green base with red-yellow-orange blended ribbons. When it no longer has the blended colors it is reduced to a mere Dragon and no longer called a Flaming Dragon.

My point being that it is the two-color color base vs the three-color color base (blended or not) that ranks it higher and distinct and separate colors such as this flaming Dragon below only make for a better example.



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Superman vs. Superboy: Orange isn't the issue so much as yellow. If it has any pure yellow, plus red on a blue base, it's a Superman. It can also have orange and I've even seen blended green: those are still Supermans. A Superboy has no pure yellow, just yellow blended with red to make orange, on a blue base. Not sure if it has to have any pure red. And if the orange is a distinct color in its own right, not just a blend of red and yellow, my guess is that it's still a Superboy, or possibly a Superteen, as I've seen some call them. :)

I don't have any problem with anyone giving new names to anything as long as they say that it's a name that they just created. Then let popular opinion decide if the name should stick. And if it already has an established name, then why not call it that to avoid confusion.

It took me a long time to see past all the names and hype, and just buy according to what I like.

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Names really only seem to mean a lot on the Internet and Ebay. Never seen anyone at a show argueing what a marble is called. The best stand on what they look like not what silly name someone made up for them . Unless your a Pelt collecter(LOL) . Peace,Galen

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Roger, thank you!! Now I understand what you & Bo meant about that questionable Superman / boy that Alan ran...

If the "group concensus" says that's a Superman by that definition, I guess I'd have to roll with it...

But, I still find it tough to get past the thought of "What did Superman spill on his emblem to deserve that??" ROFL

Galen makes a lot of sense here... We've taken a very "visual" hobby and thrust it into place where search "words" are the key.... Kinda like jammin' an octagon peg into a round hole. It wants to work, but it's not always easy.... But, as long as we're stuck with that, we might as well try to smooth it out as best as we can...

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As you can see from this picture of Alan's mib, there are separate red ribbons.

post-315-1214367923_thumb.jpg post-315-1214367965_thumb.jpg

And, as you can see from one of my own, which I call a Superboy, there are no separate red ribbons.

post-315-1214368065_thumb.jpg post-315-1214368011_thumb.jpg

Very funny there Galen!! But I thought you used to be a Pelt collector? LOL

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The reality is that the names do matter a lot on the internet. When you're at a show you see a marble in hand, so naturally you don't need to rely on a name in the same way. You don't need keywords when you're standing in front of a case of marbles.

The name game is a reality on eBay. A major force in the market. We need to be able to negotiate it safely, and honestly. Not overdoing it, but not depriving ourselves of the advantages of doing it right. I'm beginning to appreciate the pressure Alan might feel over the superboy name in general.

Whatever definitions are used, sellers have to be smart about using them. Need the right keywords. Need to be confident.

I still don't know exactly what I would call a superboy if I ever had one to sell. I'm still looking for my first superman to call my own! And I don't care about the blending for that. Might even prefer not to have the orange. Naw ... I'll take it either way. lol

In my own collection I think I'll always call it a superman not matter how much blending there is.

But it's neat to finally have a clue about the different things other people are focussing on when they use the superboy name.

Thought about something funny today. Christensens are not free of the name game. They're the ultimate in the name game. Why are they called Christensens? To take advantage of the fame of the M. F. Christensen name, right?

And if it helped them get a foothold in the marketplace, so that they could get their wonderful marbles out where people could see them, yea for their smart marketing!

I love all the hype in the old ads too. I don't mind how it sometimes misleads. It's charming. And very very human.


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OK, I can see it, now... Though, it still kinda bugs me that there's really no clearly defined yellow (that first picture tries really hard....)

I'd rather give in to it being a Superman than mention introducing "Super Teen!!" LOL :wacko:

And yes... As long as we can't simply walk up, pick it up and say, "Whoa!!! That's Cool," closer definitions are important....

One warning though..... Over the years, I've had to "adjust" to rearranging names in my head. Once a book has been written, or a name has been defined by a greater power than your own, you have to adjust to those changes, or fight it for life...

I've tried to stand firm on some terms that were well established, with good reason. Then, some Blockhead comes along and decides it's not a good, or appropriate name and changes it in a book.

Now, you have a world of collectors who know what they're talking about, a newbie comes up with a book and tells them they're all wrong and here's the PROOF!! .....

It's a tough thing to adjust to and naturally, it's going to piss you off....

Add to that..... For years, we collect German Swirls.... When we refer to "Swirls" we know what we're saying.... Now, you walk into a conversation about swirls and feel right at home, mention a pontil and everyone looks at you like you have 2 heads... THEY are talking about machine made swirls!!!

OH!! Silly Me!!! :doh:

The rules changed and I didn't get the new handbook... Excuse me while I crawl under the carpet!! :blush:

Soooooooooooo, as long as your talking about making clearly defined definitions....

Just be aware... There's a kid out there somewhere, in 8th grade today, who's got the power to blow everything that your so carefully defining, right into space....

And, if you have an issue adjusting, you'd better be prepared to fight and uphill battle....

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Here is a marble that is clearly a Superman, using the "pure yellow vs no pure yellow" definition. But is it a Superman or a Superboy, using the other definition? There doesn't appear to be any pure red ribbons that don't also have some yellow in them, blended to create orange.


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Here is a marble that is clearly a Superman, using the "pure yellow vs no pure yellow" definition. But is it a Superman or a Superboy, using the other definition? There doesn't appear to be any pure red ribbons that don't also have some yellow in them, blended to create orange.

Look! Up in the sky! It's Super man-boy!

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Guest browse4antiques

I find it interesting that names are used quite differently in handmade collecting than in machinemade collecting. For handmades, the names are sort of general descriptions of the properties of the marbles, and they are quite flexible. If you find a latticinio that has a jelly color inside, then okay, its a jelly-core latticinio. No one really tries to establish exactly how many outer bands a handmade needs to have to be considered "caged" - ones with strong twists look caged with less bands - and its all about what it looks like. But with machinemades, people want the names to be used exclusively for particular, and specific types of marble made by particular manufacturers. I guess its partly because we haven't been able to distinguish the different handmade manufacturers, and we have no idea what handmades were produced. You need the flexibility when you might turn around and discover a "4 parallel latticinio ribbon core", but you can be quite sure you're never going to run across a purple and orange NLR. ...Roger

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This must be very confusing to the newbie! So the question might be asked, do the ends ever justify the means? Why can't we use the general description along with the general construction as the two most vital points in naming a marble?

Yes it is! but if you can't see it, a name helps you visualize the subject faster than description and construction. Also interesting is the period and country of origin.

However, buying on the net is very iffy unless there is a clear pic. Marbles are often so badly described on ebay UK I don't know whether to cringe, laugh or cry.

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Roger, the only similar handmade "name" I can think of, that seems to fall into the same abyss as the machine made names, is the Joseph's Coat...

There was a time when everyone who collected marbles knew exactly what a Joseph's Coat was. It was really quite simple....

Then, it became twisted, pulled, magnified and manipulated to the point where the name is now useless for an accurate ID.

So..... Those of us who actually know what a Joseph's Coat is and understand why it has value, based on the rarity of it's original naming don't even try to figure it out by name anymore...

In the end, it really comes down to knowing what the heck your looking at...

Until photo technology advances to perfection, the internet will always be a crapshoot.

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Did someone say Joseph's Coats? To me, they need to have lots of colors to the point of not being confused with ordinary but colorful onionskins. Here are a few examples in which there is absolutely no question as to the true ID. The largest is almost 1.25" and most are in blue base glass. Enjoy!! There is a large blue mica in there too, sorry!

post-279-1225847905_thumb.jpg post-279-1225847913_thumb.jpg

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Guest browse4antiques

Sue, I think its a mattter of names getting stretched when there is no good alternative. When we see a marble with thin outer bands with no base layer like an onionskin, but only, say, 4 colors, we can't call it an onion, and technically not a joseph, but if we have to stretch one name, I guess joseph coat was the victim. Similarly with "submarine" - when cased open panel marbles were found with subsurface bands as well, there was no name for them, so "submarine" was stretched to include them. Maybe handmades suffer from the exact opposite that machine mades suffer from - perhaps we don't make up new names often enough :lol: ...Roger

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Roger, you may be right about the name thing... Though, I don't think we need to expand on that!!

I think the stretching ... in many cases.... is simply a way (Like with so many other names) to make money!!

Those pictures are certainly what I would call a lovely lot of JC's!! Without even counting to see if there's REALLY (is it 5 or 6 and more colors?) the right amount of colors... Or, if the lines really do run a full length from end to end, or if there is clear openings showing through...

All of those things are supposed to be the traits... But, it's really a "type" and not all of the type have every single part of the traits listed... The most important being the "Many" (damn, is it 5 or 6?) RANDOM colors (Meaning a quartered onionskin in blue / white and red / yellow, with 2 or 3 error spots of green and orange DOES NOT COUNT!!!) It's the number of colors that REALLY defines it's rarity and price range... Not the other parts of the definition.

So, when you have a red, yellow, white and green "breezy" (meaning lots of open clear) marble, with the colors running top to bottom.... These usually are English style.... One should NOT be conned into paying JC prices for a Joseph's Coat that's just "missing a color or two... But, geez, it's close enough" .....

NO, it's not close enough... It may be an AWESOME marble and worth the asking price. But, any cost added on for the NAME, is moot....

The danger of learning by name and definition, rather than visual, is that a definition can lead a newbie to paying more for a common marble that appears to fit the definition / name (like the quartered onionskin) when it really isn't what was intended by that name...

OTOH... A newbie could walk into a shop and see the most wonderful Joseph's Coat in the world for 5 bucks and walk away from it, because.... Maybe it's lines don't go top to bottom... Or, maybe there isn't any clear....

Kinda like me, scoffing (not really...) at a $1200 Superman, cuz there isn't any clearly defined yellow!!


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I buy a marble cause I love it! It has nothing to do with what someone calls it! The marble will sell itself no matter what name you put on it! Got to correct you a little Roger (marble pirate) in the pics you post of Alan's mib, it's two mibs, I know because I was the high bidder on one on the left 31/32" the first time Alan listed it for sale, did not meet reserve. Second time he listed it I was the underbidder did not meet reserve. The pic on the right I did win from Alan and did meet the reserve, it's a 7/8"+ beauty! I will say the one I won is closer to being a superman, but I really do not care about the names. I still call these "Millers swirls" it's easier than you know those Pelts with the exact colors as the NLR's, but with a hell of a lot of busy swirls, and either one short, (looks more like a fold or a start) or no real cut lines, that probably precede NLR's and are nothing to do with Miller, just a different feed/cut than NLR's. You know I love those busy Millers swirls, like this gorgeous example!





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I LOVE this definition of Miller Swirl!

you know those Pelts with the exact colors as the NLR's, but with a hell of a lot of busy swirls, and either one short, (looks more like a fold or a start) or no real cut lines, that probably precede NLR's and are nothing to do with Miller, just a different feed/cut than NLR's.


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I call them what I want when there mine,and leave the name up to the new owner if Im sellin'!!!

The names,to me,are very important for a couple reasons.

One is for identification by association.Color combos that mimmic something,most likely from our childhoods(Im still enjoying mine),comic book charictors,being most common,animals,ect....these are usually the most "fun".

Some names being from the original manufacturer,or something that "links" it to the company are nice,too.Excellant learning tools.Some can be kind of boring though."Tri color onyx" sounds blaa,compared to "hybrid popeye corkscrew".Two color peltier swirl,is ZZZZZZZZZ....compared to a "Cub Scout,Wasp,Bumble Bee,Submarine,,,ect."

Theres will always be "gray areas" in the name game of the marble world,because getting everyone,"on the same page",is impossible,without everyone lining up for a mass labotamy.

I love the name game on the boards,when it get to be,"Your wrong,and Im right"kind of discussions.

I consider it target practice,when I see it.

You know Im the type of guy,that will wave and smile at someone,flipping me the bird,because I wouldn't go 80mph,on the Mass. Turnpike!! :Cartoon_177:

Agree or disagree with respect,is the key,and Im still waiting for the "Sponge Bob Square pants" marble to surface. :icon_lmao: :icon_lmao: :icon_lmao: :icon_lmao: :icon_lmao:

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