Collector’s Showcase: May 2015
Marbles: Not Just Child’s Play
Like many of us, Alphy loved playing with marbles as a child; however, it wasn’t until he was an adult and purchased his first marble at a flea market that he took his enjoyment of marbles to a whole new level as a collector and promoter of the hobby.
Like other collectors, Alphy’s interest in marble collecting started with an impulse purchase at a flea market that was fueled by his fond childhood memories of the game. “I always loved marbles as a child,” he shares, “but doing the research took my hobby to a whole new level. That’s when my addiction started.”
Alphy tells the story of purchasing a large German marble at auction for $40 and years later selling it for $2,000. A few years after that, he shares, the marble sold for over $20,000 at auction! “I had an idea it was a German marble but didn’t know much more about it so I reached out to a marble show in Massachusetts and they offered me several thousands of dollars for it sight unseen.” The marble was made between 1840 and 1910 in Germany, and was rare in color and size. “Oddity and rarity are keys to value,” Alphy explains.
“The hunt is my favorite part. My wife and I love spending our time collecting at flea markets and auctions. Today people can buy complete collections online but the joy for us was in the hunt and discovery.”
Alphy shares that the real value in marbles beyond the enjoyment of collecting are the older ones made in Germany, individually hand-made in glass by artisans from the Lauscha region. From the late 19th century to the early part of the 20th century, Lauscha, Germany was the main center of marble craft. The U.S., on the other hand, didn’t start manufacturing marbles until the early 1900s with the formation of such companies as Akro Agate Marble Company, MF Christensen, Marble King, Peltier Glass Co., and Jabo. The majority of marbles found at flea markets and online today are machine manufactured Akro Agate marbles.
Over time, Alphy’s passion for the hobby has not waned. “Now I look to purchase high-end marbles as an investment, and marbles that are in their original boxes, which adds to their value.”
In 2010, Alphy joined forces with other marble collectors he met along the way to form the Nutmeg State Marble Collectors Club. The Club’s mission is to “help in creating interest to persons of youth through senior the art of collecting, learning the history and playing of marbles, and becoming a club member.” Members meet, share information and speak at organizations as varied as local historical societies and Boy Scout troops to generate new collectors for the hobby’s future.
“When I talk to new collectors or those interested in the hobby I start by asking them why they want to collect marbles. ‘Are you collecting because you like them, or are you collecting as an investment?’ If it’s as an investment, I tell them to do your research!”
For more information about the Nutmeg State Marble Collectors Club and marble collecting, friend them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nutmeg-State-Marble-Collectors-Club, or visit the Marble Show on July 11, 2015 at the Four Points by Sheraton in Meridan, CT.
Collector’s Showcase: May 2015