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Losing His Marbles to Highest Bidder

March 20, 1986|RONALD L. SOBLE | Times Staff Writer

Question: I remember reading an article on glass agates--or marbles--that said they are items that people save. My wife stumbled onto about 300 beauties that were owned by my son, who is 40 years old--which makes these marbles about 30 or 40 years old. Who would be interested in these beauties?--E.R.

Answer: Marbles are highly collectible and have a history that dates back to at least ancient Rome. They have been popular in America for more than a century; indeed, marble games existed at the time of the Civil War.

There are many classifications of marbles--agate, micas and sulfides to name a few--depending on their content. In your case, agate marbles consist of a type of quartz with an irregular appearance and come in many shades, with brown, tan and white being common colors.

Depending on condition (they shouldn't be chipped) and size, dealer and collector prices have ranged to $50 a marble and up.

If you are interested in buying, selling or obtaining information on your collection, you might start with some marble-collecting clubs that will put you in contact with other collectors.

Two clubs: the National Marble Club of America, c/o Jim Ridpath, 440 Eaton Road, Drexel Hill, Pa. 15026; and the Marble Collectors' Society of America, P.O. Box 222, Trumbull, Conn. 06611. The latter publishes a newsletter called Marble Mania.

In his book, "Where to Sell Anything & Everything" (World Almanac Publications, New York), Henry A. Hyman (whose new book is described later) says Erv Austin, 1534 N. Saginaw St., Flint, Mich. 48503, would be interested in your collection "if you have anything old, odd or different in the way of antique marbles. He also wants swirls and sulfides of all types, but especially sulfides made of colored glass and swirls with gold stripes."

Q: Realizing that the value of a collectible is based upon the price someone is willing to pay for it, I wonder if you could steer me in the right direction to find a buyer for a Royal Doulton bottle of 21-year-old Royal Salute Chivas Scotch Whiskey, purchased in 1942.--L.A.

A: We don't put buyers and sellers together in this column, but we can provide you with reference material to make your own inquiry.

Perhaps the most efficient way to proceed would be to make inquiries through bottle clubs, of which there are hundreds throughout the country. Some have newsletters in which buyer and seller inquiries are placed.

Just one reference work that has a long listing of such clubs in one of its indexes is the Official Price Guide to Bottles Old & New (House of Collectibles, Orlando Central Park, 1900 Premier Row, Orlando, Fla. 32809).

"Cash for Your Undiscovered Treasures" by H. A. Hyman (Treasure Hunt Publications, Box 1710, Temple City, Calif. 91780, $19.95 plus $3 for shipping and handling) is a large, 336-page illustrated paperback, including an index, that should be added to your collectible reference works.

This is the third Hyman book on collectibles and is well organized and fun to read. Pity that it's only available by mail and isn't in bookstores.

The book puts readers in contact with buyers of collectible items ranging from things around the house, such as lamps, knives, locks, cookbooks, jewelry, dolls, toys and sports items, to textiles, Americana and numerous other categories in its 31 chapters.

Hyman says the book's 1,500 dealer/collector address entries were verified in January so there shouldn't be any stale information.

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