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  1. #1
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Sorting marbles

    Bored in jury duty so I thought I'd start a thread about sorting marbles - I've done it enough!

    The first thing I do when I have a big lot of marbles to go through is separate them into 4 groups: clearies, Opaques, cat's-eyes (that's the correct spelling as per Peterson & castle's guide) and everything else.

    Next I turn out the lights and black light each group:

    Clearies: I cull everything that fluoresces. I sell mint Vaseline marbles for $10 each. Good Vaselines will be yellow or green and the stronger the glow the better. Them I turn the lights back on and look for weird colors. pink and purple clearies are rare. My ice collects ruby glass, so I pull the red for her too. She has a clear glass Apple she's filling with ruby marbles.

    Opaques: I cull everything that fluoresces. Fluorescent Opaques are called custard glass and are usually yellow. I also look for Moonies and flinties amongst the Opaques. these have tiny crescent Windows at the poles. Then I combine clearies and Opaques and sell them by the box full.

    Cat's-eyes are fluoresced (there are yellow and orange fluorescent cat's-eyes) then sorted into piles, depending on what I find. If I find some of what follows, I start a pile of them:

    Single color American-made cat's
    Wavy 4 or 5 vanes (Vitros - be on the lookout for hybrids and aventurine)
    3-V cat's-eyes with wide vanes (I like these with vanes reaching from the center almost to the surface)
    VDM virgin cat's-eyes with wide vanes
    Peewee cat's-eyes
    Black cat's-eyes
    Purple cat's-eyes
    Bananas
    St. Mary's & cross-through cat's-eyes
    9 vane cat's-eyes
    Cat's-eyes in colored glass (Chinese bottle tint isn't colored. True transparent colored glass is rare - the recently retired Swamp Thing Mega Marble was a cat's-eye in colored glass. I predict it will be collected.)

    Anything else goes into a pile I'll call "uninteresting cat's-eyes."

    The everything else pile is going to have the meat and potatoes of the group in it. A good place to start is with your black light. Many people will collect anything that glows, but be on the lookout for "ade" bases (lemon, lime, cherry, orange, carnelian) or moss agates (patches on a fluorescent base).

    Then I kinda eyeball it and pull the collectible stuff out. This is easier said than done, it helps to be able to ID stuff on sight, but that comes with time.

    In general, white-based marbles are less desirable. Any marble with some kind of pattern is better than a random swirl. (Think NLR, corkscrew, Rainbow). Collectible marbles tend to have some kind of pattern that makes them identifiable. That's not to say a swirl can't be collectible - oftentimes there will be a sought-out color that makes it so, so learn what oxblood, aventurine, egg yolk and silver look like.

    They just let us go! Bye!

  2. #2
    Registered User ann's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Nice! That was really interesting, Pete. And I'm glad to see someone else picking out single-color American cat's-eyes! I do too -- partly (probably) because single-color ones were my first cat's-eyes when I was a kid (Mamma came home one day with a little plastic bag of green ones), but also because if the (usually) four vanes are well-shaped and extend almost to the surface of the marble -- well, you're looking at the essence of a cat's-eye marble, aren't you!
    Last edited by ann; 01-12-2016 at 06:12 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Bored in jury duty so I thought I'd start a thread about sorting marbles - I've done it enough!

    The first thing I do when I have a big lot of marbles to go through is separate them into 4 groups: clearies, Opaques, cat's-eyes (that's the correct spelling as per Peterson & castle's guide) and everything else.

    Next I turn out the lights and black light each group:

    Clearies: I cull everything that fluoresces. I sell mint Vaseline marbles for $10 each. Good Vaselines will be yellow or green and the stronger the glow the better. Them I turn the lights back on and look for weird colors. pink and purple clearies are rare. My ice collects ruby glass, so I pull the red for her too. She has a clear glass Apple she's filling with ruby marbles.

    Opaques: I cull everything that fluoresces. Fluorescent Opaques are called custard glass and are usually yellow. I also look for Moonies and flinties amongst the Opaques. these have tiny crescent Windows at the poles. Then I combine clearies and Opaques and sell them by the box full.

    Cat's-eyes are fluoresced (there are yellow and orange fluorescent cat's-eyes) then sorted into piles, depending on what I find. If I find some of what follows, I start a pile of them:

    Single color American-made cat's
    Wavy 4 or 5 vanes (Vitros - be on the lookout for hybrids and aventurine)
    3-V cat's-eyes with wide vanes (I like these with vanes reaching from the center almost to the surface)
    VDM virgin cat's-eyes with wide vanes
    Peewee cat's-eyes
    Black cat's-eyes
    Purple cat's-eyes
    Bananas
    St. Mary's & cross-through cat's-eyes
    9 vane cat's-eyes
    Cat's-eyes in colored glass (Chinese bottle tint isn't colored. True transparent colored glass is rare - the recently retired Swamp Thing Mega Marble was a cat's-eye in colored glass. I predict it will be collected.)

    Anything else goes into a pile I'll call "uninteresting cat's-eyes."

    The everything else pile is going to have the meat and potatoes of the group in it. A good place to start is with your black light. Many people will collect anything that glows, but be on the lookout for "ade" bases (lemon, lime, cherry, orange, carnelian) or moss agates (patches on a fluorescent base).

    Then I kinda eyeball it and pull the collectible stuff out. This is easier said than done, it helps to be able to ID stuff on sight, but that comes with time.

    In general, white-based marbles are less desirable. Any marble with some kind of pattern is better than a random swirl. (Think NLR, corkscrew, Rainbow). Collectible marbles tend to have some kind of pattern that makes them identifiable. That's not to say a swirl can't be collectible - oftentimes there will be a sought-out color that makes it so, so learn what oxblood, aventurine, egg yolk and silver look like.

    They just let us go! Bye!
    So: conclusion of your jury duty?

  4. #4
    Senior Member jayne's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Pete, thanks for the info.

    I sort mine by Cat's-eye (going to try to use the spelling you cited), clear, solid, things I recognize (Pelt, Vitro), swirls, patches, and things that don't seem to fit into any of those categories. I put all of them in their separate stashes to be further separated later, when I get a whim, except for the ones I recognize and the ones that don't fit. I post the ones I don't know here and hope someone can ID them.

    Occasionally, I look at my shadow box full of swirls and try to separate them, but that just makes me want to pull my hair out. I tried sorting by opaque/opaque, opaque/transparent, transparent/ transparent, and transparent opaque, but that's not always as simple as it seems. The multicolored ones go in a separate spot in the box, and I run my fingers through them from time to time.

    I bought a blacklight and I do try to check them all out, but I probably have missed many. I have to that have Uranium, and they glow even after the light is out. A bunch of mine fluoresce, but I don't know what to do with them. Heck, half the things in that room glow, but they aren't special. (Lint on a t-shirt has a special glow.) Should I be separating those that fluoresce from those that don't?

    Regarding Moonies and Flinties, I thought only the newer ones had the openings? I have lots of "white" marbles that look orangish when backlit. I might have some Flinties, but I haven't gotten to studying them yet. One day at a time.

    I have at least three 6-vaned Cat's-eyes that look like Vitro. I have 4- and 5-vaned Vitro, and some that seem to be 3-vaned, but I think the vanes have collapsed upon themselves.

    What is a VDM virgin cat's-eye? (never been played with?)

    I have quite a few black cat's-eyes, with lots of bubbles. Not many purple ones, except for some 4-vaned ones that are transparent purple. I think some just have a purple base.

    I took a picture of all of the colors I had in 4-vaned cat's-eyes last night. This isn't counting the hybrids and other Vitro (or maybe some got through).
    Attachment 100596

    The hybrids are here:
    Attachment 100597

    How would you count the vanes on these, or are they even cat's-eyes?
    Attachment 100598

  5. #5
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Quote Originally Posted by Cas View Post
    So: conclusion of your jury duty?
    Do you mean "Is It Concluded (Over)?" (No) or "what did you conclude?", in which case my answer is "I dunno, I was sleeping."

    Back again tomorrow...

  6. #6
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    I think cat's-eyes look best when the axis is centered and the vanes are equidistant and nearly reach the surface. All this interest in cat's-eyes has me thinking I should look into carrying the cat's-eye book. I'll find out if it's still on the market.

    Here's some info from it. The spelling they settled on is "cat's-eye", which is the spelling according to Webster's unabridged dictionary. They defined cat's-eye marbles as "a machine-made marble with clear body glass and vanes or stripes on the inside. These were made with anywhere from 1 to 10 vanes. The vanes were paddle shaped, strands or fat cores."

    At the time the book was published, MK St. Mary's cats were really the only cat's-eye collected. Their book opened up a new facet of marble collecting. The book discussed hybrid cat's, 8 and 9 vane cat's, cross-throughs, horseshoe cat's and more seriously and as collectibles for the first time. The reaction among a lot of collectors was "Hogwash! Cat's-eyes are junk!" Others thought, "Every dog has it's day..." (And here it is!) I was on the cat's-eye bandwagon from the start - you don't have to try very hard to convince me to collect something

    As time has gone by, I've found the early 21st Century stuff getting very hard to find, and more and more people remember cat's-eyes as the marbles of their youth. So cat's-eyes I have overlooked for a long time, I'm starting to look out for.

    The book shows a plate of Peltier cat's-eyes (Bananas and transparent Rainbos like Sunset) and I think it says Bananas were the first cat's-eyes (though Vacor de Mexico claims to have made them during the 1930's). Peltier did make other Cat's-Eyes. An ex-worker told me and sold me a jar containing some with inflated fat white cores.

  7. #7
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Wanted to add some stuff I didn't have time to because I hit the road ASAP earlier.

    When you get to the "everything else" pile, a tip for separating the more desirable from the less desirable if you are not good with ID is to cull out the 2 color white-based swirls. They are generally not collectible.

    Swirls without white are always going to be a better marble, and tri-colors (even with white) are even better.

    One day I have to try to share more pics here, I have so much!!

  8. #8
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Jayne, if you haven't looked it up yet it looks like VDM virgin marbles are Vacor de Mexico marbles made with a non-recycled base glass. (I was racking my brain thinking of what VDM stood for and finally made the connection and looked it up on this forum). If I'm wrong Pete please correct me!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member 1mibs's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Real simple sorting:
    -Handmade German
    or
    -Disposal pile




    It's been a while for me but similar steps:
    -pile for cats eyes
    -pile for clearies
    -pile for game marbles
    -pile for clays
    -pile for handmade
    -pile for steelies (oh no!)

    -left with a big pile of miscellaneous machine made swirls that are then broken down by:
    -cork (akro)
    -baseball (pelt)
    -ones that are obviously newer
    -slags w/ nine and tail
    -slags misc
    -special looking ones that warrant further investigation

    It's fun on a rainy day to go back through some of the 'sorted' to see if you might have missed something

  10. #10
    Senior Member 1mibs's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Also worth mentioning: it's Websites like this (thanks Pete) and collectors posting pictures that's motivating to 'go through the archives' of marbles to find something similar.
    Last edited by 1mibs; 01-14-2016 at 07:22 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    "Real simple sorting:
    -Handmade German
    or
    -Disposal pile

    "

    - well, that certainly narrows my "collection" down to three pee wee's!

  12. #12
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Hi Pete, As a beginner this post was really useful. Just a thought. Do you have this "sorting technique" somewhere else on the website or is it just this post? If it's just this post you should sticky it so it stays near the top of the comments.

  13. #13
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    If there's a way to stick a post to the top of a forum after you have already composed it, I'm not sure what it is. I tried to figure it out and couldn't

  14. #14
    Administrator Pete's Avatar
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Yay Galen for helping stick this thread!

  15. #15
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    Re: Sorting marbles

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Yay Galen for helping stick this thread!
    Huge help.....Thanks again guys!

    By the way....If you are going to buy a black light, get an LED do not waste your time and money on an "old fashion bulb" they do not work.

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