Pretty enough to be a JABO. March 31, 2009Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: collectible marbles, Dave McCullough, JABO marbles, Steve Sturtz
Like most marble collectors, our friend Ben is an eBay addict. Yes, you might stumble on a nice jar of old marbles at a flea market or antiques mall, or, as I once did, a couple of bargain cigar boxes in a beatup old garage. But mostly, if you want marbles, you want to see what’s up on eBay.
Recently, our friend Ben scored what I thought was a huge coup on eBay, a group of hand-selected old marbles that looked just fantastic for basically pocket change. (Thank you, marble gods!) In due time, the marbles arrived and looked even better in person than they did on eBay.
I was thrilled. As I gently poured each bag out into my palm, I recognized that I was holding prime examples of the great creators of marble history: Akro Agate, MF Christensen, Christensen Agate, Alley, Peltier, Marble King, Vitro. Oh, wow, these were wonderful marbles. There were even some fantastic multicolored clays and Benningtons. I was beyond excited.
Then came the moment of truth. I had poured one of the bags into my hand and was admiring my latest treasure, when I found myself looking at one of the marbles and muttering, “Why, that’s almost pretty enough to be a JABO.” Whoa, what was I saying?!
JABOs are the newbies on the American marble scene. Disdained by serious marble collectors for years, in 2008 they finally came into their own. By the time of this writing, late March 2009, not only do the world’s great marble collectors recognize that JABOs rank at the forefront of machine-made marbles, most of these collectors have financed their own special runs of JABOs. Which is to say, they’ve put their money where they think the history of marbles will be.
On a much more modest scale, I’ve done this, too. My love affair with JABOs turned into a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in a JABO special run at the factory earlier this month, thanks to the generosity of official JABO historian Steve Sturtz, aka Dr. JABO, and the endless kindness of JABO marble-making genius Dave McCullough. (Steve even invited me to contribute an essay to his latest book, 2008 JABO Classics: The Experimentals.) Woo-hoo! Does this make me a JABO expert?!
Uh, no. Does it make me even more excited about the amazing marbles Dave and JABO have been putting out over the last couple of years, full of gold lutz, silver mica, green and blue aventurine, red, pink, blue, and purple oxblood, and designs and colors like you wouldn’t believe? You betcha.
I know, I know, that JABO’s marbles are as good or better than any machine-made marbles the world has ever seen. But even knowing, I was surprised to catch myself spilling this batch of primo marbles into my hand and thinking, “Why, this one’s almost pretty enough to be a JABO!”
Damn right. Time to shake myself and confront the truth: JABOs are beautiful. JABOs are more than beautiful. JABOs are the most beautiful. Any other machine-made marble can consider itself lucky to be compared to a JABO and be found almost worthy. Pretty enough to be a JABO? Not likely. But pretty enough to rate the comparison? Okay!