Cover Story in Best Times

I am honored and humbled in providing you with a link to the December 2012, Best Times cover story, Rich Maxwell, Leading young and old into a love of marbles.

I will save the punch line for a future announcement but, in brief, the 5-page article has inspired a new zeal for promoting the age-old pastime of playing marbles. I want to set up marble events, to teach kids how to play marbles. I have built indoor marble boards where kids and adults can shoot marbles without the marbles rolling all over the place. It is working well with seniors at retirement centers; and the very idea of re-connecting with the favorite childhood past time, has been very well received.

I hope we can do something together.

Kindest Regards,

Rich Maxwell, Shawnee, Kansas

Author of Collecting Marbles: A Beginner’s Guide, (May 2012)


Popeyes … and A Bag!

I helped a friend of a friend sort through his marbles today. He had two large jars and a couple of bags. At first I saw a lot of Akros including three Popeyes, then Master Mades and lots of Vitros. When we got to the bottom of the second can, there was a leather bag, with some marbles. He said, these aren’t probably worth anything. Inside were twelve more Popeyes, making a perfect set of 15. Then I looked at the bag. It was a faded Popeye bag. All we’re missing is the box!!!! It was great fun.Image

Portable Marble Ring?

At book signings, and events where I am teaching children how to shoot marbles everyone (parents & children) wants to learn how to play marbles and want to know where they can play. My idea is to build some portable rings and set them up at community centers, museums and schools. I don’t have a clue about how to build such a reliable, stable, smooth board, that is easy to transport? I describe the game Ringer (ten-foot ring etc) in my book but how big are practice rings? Bruce Breslow has a marble table ring and Steve Sturtz described a smaller, but portable “Tap Box” being used by marble players practicing for the National Marble Tournament.

Any suggestions on the dimensions, diagrams, material, surface cover and how to make such a “portable marble board”, would be very very much appreciated?

A Marble’s Color


The transparent, opaque or translucent base glass, talked about in the previous blogs, may be the first feature you see in a marble, but a marble’s color is often the feature that makes you want to pick it up and look at it. Identifying a marble by its color can be a challenge, but there are some striking differences between old marble glass and a new glass.

As with many things made back in the “good old days”, glass colors in older marbles are often richer and higher quality. The colors in “vintage glass” are also well defined. New marble colors, on the other hand, tend to be glassy, and watered down. Sometimes the new marble colors blend together.

Granted, new marble glass is often brighter. For example, the colors in JABO’s and Mega® Marbles are spectacular, but notice how they often appear oily. Some actually have a thin layer of clear glass on the outside. Many new marbles have an iridescent or pearl-like finish.


So where did these dynamic colors in old marbles come from? Glass is made from the simple ingredients of melted sand, soda ash, feldspar and other stabilizing ingredients. To give the neutral glass its color, chemical compounds are added in the furnace tank. For example, adding iron oxide in the glass mix creates a green marble, manganese creates a purple marble and adding cobalt pigment produces a blue marble.

When M. F. Christensen and Son, mentioned in an earlier blog, introduced the first marble machine, the company turned to the ancient craft of glass artistry and glass chemists such as James Harvey Leighton. Leighton, a third generation glass maker, has been described as the “Color Man”. He is credited with perfecting over 20 glass color formulas, including Oxblood, a sought after dark red colored glass that looks like dried blood.


Oxblood is found in many of M. F. Christensen’s early slag marbles. Look also for the brick red color in other early marbles, including Christensen Agate, Peltier Glass and Akro Agate. Leighton’s Oxblood formula was probably licensed to these companies.

National Marble Show Next Week

I will be introducing my new book, Collecting Marbles: A Beginner’s Guide, to collectors at the Coralville Marriott & Convention Center (Coralville,IA) Thursday, May 31st and Friday June 1st in conjunction with the Iowa Marble Meet (Amana Marble Show) June 1st and 2nd. Several members from the Kansas City Marble Club will also be attending, including Scott McBride who will have copies of my books for sale.