20 Years of the Toy Boat Marble Swap Posted on 11 Jul 08:00

A bowl of colorful marbles

July 14, 2016 from 3:00-4:00 PM

For the past 20 years, The Toy Boat has hosted one of our favorite events—the Marble Swap. Once a year, from 3:00-4:00 PM, children and adults alike arrive on Straight Wharf to trade marbles with other collectors.

Marble Swap History

The Marble Swap began with a local boy named Raymond Decosta. Like most visitors to The Toy Boat, Raymond loved buying marbles from our one-of-a-kind Marble Machines. However, since the marbles come out randomly, styles and colors vary! After receiving a number of duplicate marbles, Raymond suggested that we plan a time where other kids could come to the store and trade the marbles they no longer wanted.

Loren and children pick out marbles from a basketSo we did!

Raymond is an adult now, but I've been assured that he and his friends still have their marble collection. In fact, many a friendship has been created thanks to this wonderful event!

Join Us for the Swap

Please join us on July 14th at 3:00 in the afternoon. Bring your marbles (even one is enough to get you started!) This year, we will be giving away an amazing hand-made marble by glass artist Fritz Launstein. His incredible marbles feature in private collections around the world!

Marbles at The Toy Boat Posted on 6 Jul 21:30

A brief history of Marbles

A wall of Marbles at the Toy Boat

Did you know that marbles have been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs? And that there are references to marbles in Greek and Roman literature? Or that a 15th century manuscript refers to “the little yellow balls with which school boys play, and which were very cheap?”

Marbles have existed in nearly every culture the world over. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that they still hold great appeal to children—their shape, colors, patterns, and textures remain appealing to all ages!

Marbles in America

In the 1930's, America was marble crazy! Every child's pocket had a few marbles in it. School yards and alleyways were full of children knuckle-down in the dirt, and marble contests were all the rage. Marbles were worth their weight in gold to their young owners. All of this popularity held strong until the 1950's, when America's marble madness began to wane.

How Things Changed

Many aspects of America's cultural and physical landscape began to change in the 1950's. Community landscaping began to shift from dirt surfaces to cement or blacktop, including schoolyards and driveways. Alleys became a thing of the past, and suddenly there just wasn't anywhere to play.

Likewise, television lessened the interest in “old fashioned toys.” This, combined with an increase in commercially-produced toys, led to a decrease in interest for marbles. To cut a long story short, as television and commercialism took more control of our lives, marbles fell by the wayside.

The playing of marble games has become almost non-existent. However, marbles have not! They're just the type of timeless toy we here at The Toy Boat believe all children should experience. Games are played, and games are invented for them. We've seen them become jewels and money in fantasy play, and take part in math and science exploration. Their size encourages the development of fine motor skills, and they open dialog between people and offer endless creative possibilities.

Marbles at The Toy Boat


A little boy holding a bag of marbles
At The Toy Boat, we share the world's fascination with marbles. That's why you'll find an amazing variety of marbles here! We've got marbles from all over the world— marbles so small they can barely be picked up, marbles so large that we're often asked if they're really marbles at all, and everything in between! We have hand-made marbles (each one a unique work of art) and antique marbles to remind us of our history. Stop by the store, and we'll teach you the names of hundreds of marbles—we hope you'll find them as delightful as we do!

There are very few things you can give a six year old that a 60 year old will still love. Here at The Toy Boat, we believe that marbles are one of those things. If you agree, take a look—we've got an excellent Art Marble section.

The endless variety of sizes and designs that marbles take will never let them be forgotten.

Well, not if we can help it.