Toy manufacturers these days are on a perpetual race to invent new, complex, interesting and unique toys that are going to go a step beyond everything that was made before. They do this under the assumption that children accustomed to technology aren’t amused by simple toys anymore. However, generations of children played with toys that are as simple as it gets. Even today you can see that a simple box, stick or rock can be loads of fun if coupled with the appropriate imagination. One of the toys that are as simple as it gets are marbles – small metal or glass spheres adorned with multiple colors. For those of you too young to know what to do with them, and those who want to brush up on their knowledge, here’s a short overview of what you can do with marbles.
What are they made of
One can confidently say that marbles stem as far back as intelligent human life since small, spherical objects were excavated in almost every archaeological site around the world. However, marbles started being made of glass only recently in the world, with clay and stone being more common in the past. Glass became the predominant material in the last couple of centuries, which lead to the possibility of giving marbles unique colors. Pigmented glass was responsible for the marble’s characteristic color—mangane gives the glass a purple hue, iron oxide a green nuance, while uranium oxide would give it a yellowish green “radioactive” color.
How to play with them
The traditional game of marbles is played with two types of marbles – your shooter marble, a bigger, better-balanced marble used to hit other marbles, and your regular marbles that will be hit by the shooter. A circle about 1 meter in diameter is drawn in chalk on the pavement and regular marbles are spaced out in it. Depending on the number of players, more or fewer marbles will be placed inside the circle, with each player contributing an equal number. The turn of playing is determined by drawing a line on the ground, each player throwing a marble as close to the line as possible. The player with the marble closest to the line goes first, the second closest goes second, etc. In order to use the most effective technique, cup the shooter marble with your index finger, fold your pinkie, ring finger and middle finger into your palm, and place your thumb underneath the marble.
The goal is to kneel outside the circle and knock as many regular marbles out of it using your shooter marble. You win all the marbles that you knock out of the circle, but be careful–before starting the game, determine whether you’re playing “for keeps”, which means that players actually get to keep all the marbles they won. If you’re a beginner, maybe you should consider playing “for fair”–the winner is determined by the number of marbles a player knocks out of the circle, but everybody gets to keep their marbles at the end of the day.