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The History of Marbles

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played with marbles made from either stone or polished nuts. Marbles are also mentioned in Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, indicating their popularity in England and Europe. They later migrated from Europe to America with the colonists. At the time, just like today, playing with marbles was not just for children, and many of the Founding Fathers were known to play skillfully! In the middle of 19th century, a German glassblower invented a pair of special scissors that could cut molten glass, which helped to make glass marbles affordable for the first time. (Previously, materials like stone, clay, or alabaster had been used.) Glass marbles quickly became the most popular type and were valued for their beauty as well as the games that could be played with them. In addition to game pieces, they became collectible items, and today, over 400 million people worldwide still collect marbles. (Their value is determined by age, scarcity, type, condition, and size.) Today, marbles is also an officially recognized sport with its own world championship!

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