I think one of the reasons we all love summer is that summer days offer some sort of permanent portal to the summer days of our childhood. Want to feel young again? Roll down the windows and crank the pop music of your generation. Grab a towel and a magazine and go lounge by the pool. Head down to a street festival, pick up a funnel cake, and sit around in the twilight enjoying that simple, yet contradictory, summer feeling of being simultaneously itchy, a bit too warm, and content. For instance, this coming weekend, many folks looking to revisit childhood will be heading to Wildwood, New Jersey for the festivities surrounding the National Marbles Tournament.
The folks at the National Marbles Tournament take their marbles seriously and so do collectors. It’s thought that marbles originated in Pakistan, with the earliest examples being, of course, stone, although very early clay and glass marbles have also been found. A variety of games can be played with marbles and their popularity really began to explode in the last half of the 19th century when mass production of marbles became possible. For quite a time, Akron, Ohio was the marble capital of the world with more than a dozen companies in the area producing them. (In fact, Akron’s home to the the American Toy Marble Museum.) There are dozens of slang terms for marbles, terms that still carry the flavor of 19th-century mibster slang (a mibster is one who plays marbles) – mibs, milkies, aggies, clayeys, commies. Most of them describe either the material or the internal appearance, and don’t be fooled by their size, because little marbles can bring big bucks at auction! (Check out the one pictured above….) As with anything, collectors care about condition – playing is hard on glass and ceramic marbles – but the size, color and design can all affect value. Definitely worth spending one of your nostalgic summer days poking around in your folks’ basement!
-Hollie Davis, Senior Editor, p4A.com
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