Antique Clay Marbles
Antique clay marbles are small spherical toys made of clay.
History & Description
Before glass marbles became common, marbles were made from porcelain, china, stoneware and clay. They were first mass-produced in the late-sixteenth century until the early-eighteenth century, first in the Netherlands and then later in Germany.
At one point, clay marbles were so ubiquitous that they were also known as “commies”. Clay marbles are arguably the most common type of antique marbles on the market today. They tended to be constructed from softer ceramic clay and were fired at much lower temperatures compared to porcelain and stoneware marbles.
Guide for collectors
A clay marble’s value is determined by its size and aesthetic qualities. However, perhaps the most important factor is its condition. Any damage, such as chips or badly worn surfaces, decreases the value of a marble significantly.
As a general rule, a group of antique clay marbles tends to sell at auction between $1001 and $2002.
Collectors should look out for eighteenth and nineteenth century marbles that were manufactured in Germany. These are the most sought after collectible marbles and can fetch the highest prices. For example a box of German clay marbles was sold through Dan Morphy Auctions LLC in Denver in September 2004 for a realised price of $2753.
Notable auction sales
On February 27th 2010 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania, a large lot of clay marbles, including geometric China, Bennington, painted and unpainted clay, realised a price of $150.
On November 19th 2004 at Shelley’s Auction Gallery in Hendersonville, North Carolina, a lot of over 1,000 clay marbles realised a price of $200.
On July 29th 2006 at Four Seasons Auction Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, a box of clay marbles realised a price of $225.
On December 3rd 2011 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania, a jar containing over 950 clay marbles realised a price of $175.