Don't Lose Your Marbles. Some of them go back a long way. Thank you for sending me an image of your glass sulphide marble. It is a great piece and makes me think back to when I was first introduced to playing marbles at my grandmother's house in the late 1970s.Marbles have had a long history as a game that has been around for thousands of years. They have been found in Egyptian tombs and were used in ancient Rome. These marbles were typically made from stone, marble and clay. Later, in the mid-19th century, a German glassblower started to create glass marbles. He invented "marbleschere," or marble scissors. A glass rod would be heated and these scissors enabled the end to be cut into a round marble.Your marble is a late-19th century German sulphide example, probably dating to around 1890. A sulphide marble is a glass marble with a small figure inside of it. These marbles are made by taking a separate small porcelain figurine (such as the sheep figure in your marble) and inserting it into the soft hot glass at the end of a glass rod.It was then rounded using shears and placed into a pot for further annealing (a process of heating and slow cooling to add strength and reduce brittleness). The finishing touch was to polish the marble. These marbles became the prized possessions of children all around the world. Sulphide marbles were often of a larger scale - around two inches in diameter - so the figurine could be seen.Marble collecting is popular and your sulphide type is one that is highly prized. It would benefit from being polished.I would value your sulphide marble at $150.
This article appears in the November 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine