Playing with Marbles

The kids of yesteryear loved their sidewalk games, and the game of marbles was a favorite.

Unlike today’s machine-made glass marbles, antique marbles were not a uniform roundness. Instead, they were handmade, picked out from clay and rolled into shapes as close to perfect spheres as possible.

Sometimes, factory workers made marbles for their children with supplies available at work.

This allowed for each and every marble to be unique.

Most antique marbles were made in the late 19th and early 20th century. The first factory to make marbles was owned by C. Dyke in South Akron, Ohio in 1884. Unfortunately, the plant was built right next to the railroad, and passing trains caused large fires in the factory, destroying everything except for the kilns, putting the factory in an idle state until it was bought by new owners.

The new owners refined the process for making marbles. They used one machine to grind clay, one to cut it, then another to roll the clay into balls. Kilns fired the tiny balls and then they were dyed. The marbles became popular, but prone as the factory was to fires, it burned down again between 1906 and 1910.

Of course, this was just the start of manufactured marbles.

Antique and vintage clay marbles never fail to have character. Some have solid color, some have mixed; some are smooth, some have bumps and ridges either from their manufacture or from play.

Glazed clay marbles are often called Bennington: even though they actually have no relation to the Bennington company, they have a similar appearance to the blue and brown Bennington pottery.

Do you remember playing with marbles as a kid? There are tons of fun games and activities to do with marbles that keep kids occupied for hours. These games were especially popular in the early 20th century.


This is a fun and popular marble game:

Draw a circle on the ground, with about a two foot circumference.

Put a marble in the center.

The first player rolls or shoots another marble to hit the marble in the middle. If he misses, his turn is over.

The next player aims for the middle marble.

If either shooter hits the middle marble, he wins and keeps all the marbles in the ring.

The winner puts a new marble in the middle and the game starts again from the first step.

Did you play with marbles as a kid? What was your favorite game?

Old Fashioned Remedies: Witch Hazel & A Bonus Bug Spray DIY

Many seem to have forgotten the almost magical qualities of witch hazel, but it deserves so much more recognition. Victorians used to keep gallon jugs of witch hazel on their vanities for the extract’s multi-purpose use.

Wondering what witch hazel can do for you? To start with:

  • Witch hazel reduces inflammation, making it ideal for treating acne and under-eye bags
  • Use it on bruises to help them heal faster
  • Treat itching & swelling from poison ivy or poison oak
  • Soothe a sunburn with witch hazel to help it feel better & heal faster

…And more!

Summer’s coming up, and that means it’s almost mosquito season. For many of us, however, the chemical-laden bug sprays on the market are a little suspicious.

Witch hazel offers a solution that doesn’t leave your skin smelling like chemicals for hours. It’s a natural bug repellant (but if you’re caught out without bug spray, it makes for a soothing bug bite treatment, too). People in the olden days probably used witch hazel to keep away the bugs.

A mint plant with a flower.

A fresh mint plant.

DIY Witch Hazel Bug Spray (from this source):

1. Ingredients:  your choice of essential oil, witch hazel, and water.

2. The essential oil can be any combination of citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, or mint. Using at least one oil from the mint family is recommended.

3. Fill the spray bottle half full of boiled water, then fill almost the rest of the way with witch hazel. Add 30-50 drops of your oils of choice. The more drops of oil you add, the stronger the mixture will be.

That’s it! Now this old fashioned remedy will repel bugs and help you smell really good at the same time.

Do you have any natural home remedies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!