Even though I specialize in selling antique books, I can’t help but love antiques in general.
Recently I got hold of a collection of antique sulphide marbles, some of the most unique marbles I’d ever seen.
First produced beginning in the mid 1800’s through the 1930’s, sulphide marbles are clear or transparent glass with a tiny sulphide figure inserted within them. Each marble was crafted by hand and therefore each is unique, carrying its own marks, air bubbles, and sometimes cracks if the process was not carried through carefully.
The most common antique sulphide figures you’ll find are animals of all sorts including dogs and cats, birds, and barnyard animals. Slightly less common than these are wild animals such as lions and elephants. Human sulphide figures are the most difficult to find; the human figures were often busts of famous people, or were full length figures.
One of the rarest sulphide marbles, the example pictured here is one from the collection I obtained. You’ll see that the figure encased in the marble is well centered within the glass (an aspect collector’s really like) and features an unusual figure of a boy and girl sitting together reading a book. The figure of the children is nicely detailed has a beautiful silver patina. The pontil mark to base (considered the south pole of marble) pontil has been ground down.