There has been a rise in popularity lately of marbles, the little round toys that are used to play a competitive game. While marbles have been around for a long time — evidence exists that the ancient Egyptians and residents of pre-volcanic Pompeii played marbles — in recent years hipsters have discovered the game, which has experienced a sudden rise in popularity.
But are marbles actually made out of marble? The answer is: Not usually.
Marble Repair NYC — Marble vs Marbles
Marbles can be made out of any hard material. For example, Native Americans reportedly used stones that had been polished smooth by a running river. But for centuries, they have been created by artisans out of glass, clay, stone, or even steel.
But they have rarely been made of actual marble.
In the early part of the 20th Century, marbles became so popular that they began to be mass produced and sold to little boys nationwide. In 1915, toymaker M.F. Christensen turned part of his Akron toy-making plant into a marble assembly line that featured a screw conveyor composed of two grooved cylinders that spun next to each other.
Once they were allowed to cool, these became the type of marbles we know today.
Marble Repair NYC — So Why Are They Called ‘Marbles’?
So if marbles can be made out of glass and other materials, why are they called “marbles”? While there is no definitive answer to this question, it’s probably because marble has always been considered a highly exclusive material that only the most elite could afford.
Boys bragging about the quality of their glass spheres might naturally claim to their peers that they actually were made out of marble, the same luxurious material that lined the walls and floors of the most exclusive skyscrapers in Manhattan and elsewhere.
And the name likely stuck.