Have you lost your marbles?
Marbles is a street game people have been playing since before there were streets. The ancient Egyptians played games with small balls made of clay. In Renaissance Italy, glass blowers made glass "marbles" as children's toys. The first book about marbles was published in England in 1815.
The marbles you probably remember are the brightly-colored, machine-made glass marbles. And the games you played might have gone by names like Potsie, Forts, Ring Taw, or Bossout.
Like stickball and skully, marble games have faded as a pastime, done in by asphalt paving, the rise of video games, and the death of the vacant lot. But there are pockets of marble diehards including a national tournament that's been held every year since 1922.
The British World Marbles Championship has been held every Good Friday in Tinsley Green, England, since at least the 1600's and perhaps longer. It's run by the impressive-sounding British Marble Control Board and often hosts teams from other countries.
If you can't get to England, there's the National Marble Tournament held every year in Wildwood, New Jersey. It's open to kids under the age of 14 and there are boys and girls divisions. To participate in the national you must first compete in a local tournament.
The Rolley Hole Tournament in Cumberland County, Tennessee, proves marbles isn't just for kids. Folks there play a marble game called "Rolley Hole." Every September there's a marble festival and tournament at Standing Stone State Park.
If you're into collecting marbles as well as playing with them, we recommend you visit LandOfMarbles.com. It'll get you up to speed on marble collector community at large.
contributions by Richie Chevat, author of The Marble Book, published by Workman Publishing, New York. Used with permission.
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