Clay marbles are  the  most common old  marble that  you  will find. These marbles were the  easiest to  produce and  millions still exist. Unfortunately, Clay marbles do not  have nearly the  eye-appeal of any other marbles and therefore are the least collectible of any marble.


Clay marbles were made in both Germany and  the  United  States. It has been reported that  Clay marbles were used as  ballast in the  keels of ships that sailed to America from  Germany, and  were then removed and  sold  in this country. On the American side,  some of the earliest U.S. marble-related patents are  for devices that  fashion blobs of clay  into round spheres, which were then fired to harden them.


Clay marbles are  usually found in their  natural tan  color, but they may also be dyed. The dyed marbles are usually found in red, blue, brown, green or yellow. Colored Clay marbles were referred to as “polished”. Foil clays are small (usually less  than  1/2” diameter) Clays with a metallic coating on them. These were produced in Germany after  the  turn  of the  twentieth century and  are  usually found in Mosaic games.


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Crockery marbles are a type of Clay marble that is made from two or three different colors of clay. Some are merely opaque white or off-white marbles that were fired at a higher temperature than clays, making them somewhat denser. There are also some lined Crockery that  are  opaque white with thin blue and/or green swirls mixed in. These are  rarer and somewhat collectible. The  lined  Crockery marbles were made by  rolling  together the different colors of clay. You can achieve the same effect today with a little experimentation with Sculpey® clay. Crockery marbles were all fired to harden them. There are  glazed and  unglazed varieties of Crockery marbles. Some have very intricate designs in the swirl patterns and are quite attractive.


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Bennington marbles are a type of glazed clay marble. They are not very dense. The marbles are fired clay with a salt glaze on them. Benningtons are readily identifiable by both their coloring and the little “eyes” that they have on them. These are spots where the marbles were touching each other while they were being fired, resulting in those spots being uncolored and unglazed.


The term “bennington” is actually a misnomer. There is no evidence that they were ever made in Bennington, Vermont, or that they have any lineage to the Bennington pottery that they resemble and from which they get their name. It appears that all Bennington marbles were imported from Germany. Some boxes have been found that contain them and that are labeled “Agates - Imitation / Made in Germany.”


Benningtons are usually colored brown or blue. Green or black Benningtons are rarer. Marbles that have both brown and blue on them, as well as a little green, are referred to as “fancy Benningtons”. These are rarer than the single color variety. There are also some very rare examples with pink on them.


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Carpet balls are glazed, crockery spheres that are used in a game similar to bocce. Most carpet balls were made in England, predominately at Sunderland.The majority of carpet balls are in the 3” to 3-1/2” range. They have varying designs painted on them. Some of the designs (from most common to least common) are: Lined, intersecting lines-single color, intersecting lines-multiple colors, crown and thistle, flower. There are also Carpet Balls where the decoration is a transfer, rather than being painted. Designs are the more common type of transfer, although scenes have been found.


Another type of Carpet Ball is the Mochaware. These use various colored clay, similar to lined Crockery. Mochaware tend to be slightly smaller than standard size Carpet Balls.


Some Carpet Balls are small sized (about 2-1/4”). Opaque white balls are the jack. This was the target ball. Sometimes, the name of a store is printed on them. There were also lady or child-size balls (about 2-1/2”). These are less common.


Recently, many reproductions have begun to appear. These can be identified by several features: They have a thick clear glaze; many have small circular hit marks that just crack the glaze; and if they have small chips then the interior is a dark white or tan color (original carpet balls have chalky white interiors).


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