LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 10

Inmy ongoing research about
games for the new exhibit at
LeRoyHouse, I think I’m losing
my marbles! If I thought last
year’s research about porcelain
insulators was a challenge, it
pales incomparison to identifying
marbles.But I’ve learneda lotand
hope sometime this summer you
stop by LeRoy House to take a
look at the exhibit.
I assumed that marbles were
popular in the early1800s, when
Thomas and Augustus LeRoy
were growing up. But marbles
weren’t common. In fact they
were pretty scarce. The marbles
that are described in the “Boy’s
Own Book” written in 1829
mention “Dutch” or variegated
claymarbles. Therewere yellow
“stone” marbles with circles
of black or brown. These were
made of limestone or agate. The
best marbles were called “taws”
and were usually larger than
the regular marbles. Taws were
described as pink marble with
dark veins. They were called
“Blood Allies. “ The word Allie
was a reference to a stoneknown
as alabaster.
The LeRoy boys probably
had clay “Dutch” marbles and
a few taws of stone. Theymight
have had some “china” marbles
that were made of hard white
clay, instead of the soft red clay.
Some of the chinamarbles were
decoratedwith lines. Someof the
soft redclaymarbleswereglazed.
Today they are called “Bennies”
because the glaze looks like the
glaze of the Bennington Pottery
in Vermont. But none of these
were glass marbles. From what
I’ve read, there were some glass
marbles, but they would have
been hand made and probably
so expensive that not many kids
wouldhave ever seen one.
In the1800smostof themarbles
weremade inGermany.However,
at theendof the1800s, therewere
a couple of innovative men in
Ohio, who developed machines
tomass producemarbles.Martin
Christensen adapted a machine
that made steel ball bearings
and started producing millions
of glass marbles. (The Marble
Museum is located in Akron,
Once I started looking at glass
marbles, Iguessyoucouldsaymy
eyesstarted toglassover. There’s
just toomanydesigns, colorsand
varieties to learn. But it’s easy
to understand why boys played
marbles, especially if they could
win someone’s favorite cat’s eye
or sulphide.
When Wi l l iam Clarke
wrote the “Boy’s Own Book”
in 1829, he only listed a few
marble games and said: “the
games of marbles are not very
numerous: the following pages
contain descriptions of all that
have come to our knowledge”.
The games that he listed were
“spans and snops,” “bost about,”
“holes,” “knock-out,”“ring-taw,”
Clarke didn’t think much of
the game of “conqueror” which
allowed players to literally
destroy each othersmarbles. He
also listed “arch-board” which
was a wooden board with nine
arches in it. The object was to
pitch the marbles through the
arches and gather points. Players
also used round bullets instead
WorldWar Idealt adevastating
blow to theGerman toy industry
marble production went into
high gear and boys in every
neighborhood played their
“boss-out,” “chasies,” “poison,”
“black snake,” “Newark killer,”
“off the wall,” “pugs,” “skelly,”
“fort,” “dropsies,” “cherry pit,”
“hundreds,” and the popular
Before beginning a game,
everyonehad toagreeon the rules
and whether they would “play
for keeps” (winners could take
opponentsmarbles– thusyou lost
all your marbles) or you could
“play for fair.” Marble players
were called “mibsters.” Players
would “knuckle down” to play
marbles and anymarble that was
an easy targetwas called a “dead
duck.” If you changed the rules
youwere accused of “fudging.”
The only antique marbles that
we have in the collection are
several colored claymarbles that
Pottery. I have a small collection
of marbles that belonged to my
uncle that I will bring in for the
exhibit, but if any of you have
somemarbles thatyoucould loan
us,wewill return them in the fall
when we close the exhibit. And
I’m looking for an old Erector
set –or parts of one. (I onlyneed
to borrow it).
The exhibit will open on
Sunday, May 4 which is also
the Historical Society’s annual
meeting. It begins at 3 pm and
anyone is invited toattend. Some
light refreshmentswillbeserved.
The short meeting includes the
electionofmembersof theBoard
of Trustees. The nominees for
this year include, Scott Ripley,
Anne Fox, Sam Leadley, Sue
MacQuillen, for a three-year
term; Dan Diskin for a second
three-year term; and
for a two-year term.
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