Last week I created an online marble survey to investigate people’s marble habits. 60 people took the survey. Here’s a brief summary of what I found out about them.
82% own at least one marble.
The average number of marbles owned is 130.
58% have lost their marbles.
What people do with marbles (in descending order of popularity): Keep them around, put them in flower vases, give them to children, make marble runs, give them to the cat, find them randomly lying around, assign personalities to them, find them in the back yard, put them in fish tanks, play marble games, do science experiments, clink them together, look to them with suspicion and regret, robots.
Other Wonderful things people said about marbles:
- Each is a wonderful little world that you can peer into, a glassy microcosm. Growing up, the only pet our fussy dad would let us keep was a goldfish, and we put marbles in the bottom of the tank. The fish poo was trapped safely under the marble bed, thwarting attempts by said fish to eat said poo. The marbles were almost as interesting as the goldfish.
- I played marbles a lot as a kid both “shooting” and rolling big pots where it was like a Vegas crap table with players having put in “all the marbles” and the tension thick. I kept some of the special “high” value agots worth 1 million.
Early memory of making butter with marbles and heavy cream in a baby food jar at summer camp. Nostalgia.
I grew up on Washington’s Puget Sound, and there was a particular beach — Glass Beach — that had been used as a dump site in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A couple hundred yards of beach were dotted with old pottery, pieces of junk metal, and lots of bits of glass (hence the name). You had to hike a couple of miles to get to it, which increased its mystique. The most treasured find was a marble; everyone looked for them, and usually each expedition would find no more than one. I found one or two in my time, in many years of going there. It was always very exciting.
- My grandparents had a wooden marble roller, which my siblings and I played with for hours. The sound pattern of the rolling sound, CLICK, rolling, CLICK, rollling…. I also own one special blue marble, given to me by an outdoor educator named Karen about 20 years ago. It represents the planet earth, and I promised to care for it.
- my great uncle, Dumas Walker, was the “King of Marbles”. He made his own marbles.He owned a beer shack in the hills of TN on the edge of a dry county. The Kentucky Headhunters wrote a song about him. He always gave me a stick of beef jerky when we visited that part of the country. Makes me smile.
- There is an old story that my sister likes to tell about when I was very young. She says that she had a very beautiful and expansive marble collection. She claims that I played with them, scattering them all over the house, losing them permanently. I don’t remember a thing about it, but I think that it might be best to not have all your marbles, so I think she should probably really be thanking me.
Respondents ranged in age from 21 to 63 and were located across the country, in California, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Indiana and Colorado. They were mostly museum workers, with a handful of exceptions.