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The purpose of this guide is to provide a general introduction to some of the historic artifacts recovered from archaeological sites in the Upper Sangamon Basin of east-central Illinois.Most of the field work has focused on the Mahomet area, but these sites are considered typical of material from the larger study area.Please note that most of the information on this page is borrowed from the writings of Jeff Carskadden and Richard Gartley, both of whom have heavily researched this topic and are gratefully thanked for helping advance the hobby of marble collecting into the realm of professional archaeology.Hand cut agates were mostly produced in the Idar-Oberstein area of western Germany at least as early as 1775 and probably much earlier.Then in 1827, agate was discovered in Uruguay (in a region that is now part of Brazil), and thereafter (beginning around 1834) this agate was exported to Idar-Oberstein.The agate marble market thrived after 1860 and continued until the onset of World War I.The time frame is generally from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the First World War (1920).
Alan Basinet is the author to all the pictures and information below.
Many of these marbles were shipped to the United States during this period.
After the great war, the industry was seriously crippled, not only because of the war but likely resulting from the growing popularity of machine made glass marbles, which were initially given names to suggest their similarity to "aggies." Hence, such companies as Akro Agate and Christensen Agate.
Naked examples, along with those possessing three levels, are rarer and therefore more collectible.
Examples with a left-hand twist are also more highly prized but often go undetected; these marbles have a twist to their design that goes to the right of the viewer, rather than to the left as is much more common.
For a much more thorough description of the history of hand made glass marbles, please visit my History of Glass Making in Lauscha, Germany page.