Playing Marbles

It seems like children don’t really play with marbles anymore. I always thought it was fun but didn’t really have anyone to play with. My great-uncle was supposed to be some sort of shark on the playground when it came to marbles but I also remember being told his sister, my grandmother, was quite good too. She kept a number of their child-hood marbles her entire life. They were quite pretty. In so many different colors and designs. I remember that I used to play with them on grandma’s old wooden floors. It’s a miracle that no one ever stepped on one and fell.


This vintage drawing of children playing marbles is fromĀ Harper’s Young People, the edition from May 24, 1881. It is a simple black and white line drawing that could be used as it was published or with some color added. Three of the children are playing and a fourth is checking out something in a nearby tree. The little girls are wearing hats and bonnets and one of them has lifted her skirt to hold her cache of marbles – ooh, how scandalous it must have been, for her pantlets are showing.


This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.