To identify an antique marble and determine its age, it is important to examine the materials and overall appearance of the marble and assess it closely to determine if it was handmade or machine made. Most marbles from the 1800s were handmade in Germany and imported to the United States. Machine-made marbles became much more common around World War I.
Handmade marbles usually feature a mark called a pontil, which is a rough patch where the marble was attached to a stick during the glassblowing process. While some new marbles are handmade, and some old ones were made or finished using machines, examining the pontil mark is the best way to determine the marble's probable age.
Also, handmade marbles often feature small air bubbles or flaws that are characteristic of glass blown objects. These small flaws aside, antique marbles are typically brighter and more lovely than their modern-day counterparts due to their superior materials and the fact that they were individually crafted. Make note of the pattern or design inside the marble, because different designs were popular at different points in history.
Marbles came into popularity in the United States in the late 1800s, but they date back into ancient history when they were seen as spiritual objects by some cultures and a source of entertainment by others. Children from Nepal, Crete and Rome were known to have enjoyed marble games.