Table 1Date ranges and characteristics of marble types.
Type of Marble Date Range Characteristics
Brown-bodied earthenware Mid 18th century to 1930s Fired marbles range in color: red, gray, brown and tan. Generally unglazed and porous. Almost impossible to date. 
Painted or dyed earthenware c. 1890s to 1914 Brown-bodied earthenware marbles painted or dyed in either solid or multiple colors (blue, red, green, yellow, etc.).  Often the color is faded or partially worn away when found archaeologically.
Yellow ware c. 1860-1874 Clear glazed or unglazed marbles from a buff or yellow earthenware.  Made by at least one pottery in Ohio, whose manufacture dates correspond with date range shown to the left.
Pipe clay (kaolin) Began import to US from Germany in 1890s. Manufactured from low-fired kaolin clays, chalky and white.
Variegated clays/Agateware Colonial period to WWI Incompletely mixing different color clays created the variegated appearance of agateware marbles.
Whiteware c. 1880s-1910 White bodied earthenware; usually sloppily glazed and out-of-round.
Bisque (unglazed) stoneware c. 1600-1800 Impermeable to liquids; often gray in color.
Brown or gray salt glazed stoneware c. 1600-1800 Grey stoneware paste.  Brown examples covered with iron oxide or manganese slip before glazing.
Benningtons c. 1870-1910 White stoneware body, colorful glazes in blues and browns, often glazed in several mottled colors, circular bare spots in glaze.
Variegated Clays/Jasper Late 19th to early 20th century Often white clay bodies variegated with blue and/or green clays.
Porcelain (Chinas) c. 1800 to 1920 Highly fired white clay, can be unglazed or glazed.  Undecorated marbles as well as examples with painted designs.
Undecorated c. 1800-1920 Usually found in post-1870 contexts.
Decorated   c. 1850-1910 See table below for more refined dating.
Limestone Most typical on North American archaeological sites post 1769 and through 19th century.  Still being sold in North America until WWI Usually found in natural stone colors (brown, grey, tan, white, yellow, but can be dyed different colors.  Dilute acid solutions will effervesce when coming into contact with a limestone marble.
Handmade Glass c. 1846- Distinguished from machine made by the presence of two cut-off marks on opposite sides of the marble, where it was cut from a glass rod (Randall 1971).
Swirl c. 1854- Transparent glass body with variously colored twisted glass threads and ribbons.  These handmade marbles have cut off marks at opposite ends (Gartley and Carskadden 1998:127-129).
Sulphides c. 1870-1920 Transparent, usually colorless, glass body with a silvery figure encased inside the marble.  Usually at least 1” diameter.
Codd Bottle stoppers c. 1870-1920 Contain mold seams; occur in light green, colorless, black or azure glass.
Machine-made Glass post-1901 to present One cut-off mark present on transitional machine-made marbles (c. 1901-1926), but completely spherical after c. 1926.
  Dates used in the table above were taken from Carskadden and Gartley (1990) and Gartley and Carskadden (1998).