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Clay and Crockery Marbles

Crockery Marbles

Many crockery marbles, especially brown- or blue-glazed ones, have been called Benningtons by dealers and collectors, because they bear a similar appearance to the blue and brown glazed Bennington pottery ware. According to the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, Bennington potters did not manufacture marbles as production items. It is possible that individual workmen made marbles for their own children, there is no evidence to prove it. It certainly would not account for the large number still existing. The great majority of crockery marbles were probably produced in Germany.

Made the same way as other pieces of pottery, marbles began as small pieces of clay, which were shaped into spheres, coated with glaze and fired. Most of these marbles are anything but perfect spheres, showing hurried and careless production to create large quantities without wasting time. "Bennington" type crockery marbles are distinguished by "eyes" which are present on the surface, which is a small circular spot often heavy enough to appear almost black. Most marbles contain one of more eyes, or stilt marks, which were formed at places where the marble was supported by or touched some other surface while the glaze was being fired. It is highly probably that brown marbles are probably more common than are the blue. Benningtons come in a wide variety of shades and intensity of the glaze, some dark brown with even darker almost black markings giving a mottled appearance. The glaze used on these marbles is often very thick and shiny. Some Benningtons are light tan with a barely noticeable glaze, and all kinds of intermediate color shades exist. No bennington is ever completely the same shade of brown all over. Some marbles have visible bluish or greenish markings along with the shades of brown.

The blue colored crockery marbles vary as well in depth of color and intensity of glaze. Many of these marbles have a mottled appearance, with the darker blue and lighter blue or white patches beign mixed together on the surface. Another color varietion has both blue and brown markings and often quite a bit of white. From the number of the bi-colored Benningtons that exist and the combination of distinct blue and brown (with sometimes a dash of pink or green), it may be safely assumed they were produced separately. The size of "Bennington" marbles ranges from about 1 1/2" in diameter to about 7/16" in diameter.

There are also rare crockery marbles in pink and dark green, where the color is solid rather than mottled. Another type of crockery marble exists, in which very few have eyes, those that do with small spots without glaze. A distinctive dark ring of thick glaze surrounds these spots in the "Bennington" type is absent. There is also a lined design painted on them like those of the unglaze, unfired porcelain marbles. These marbles are basically white in color with blue and green lines swirled about in an aimless fashion. A few may be green with blue swirled lines, blue with green lines and spots.

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