Duarte Historical Society

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277 Opal Canyon Rd.
Duarte, California 91010

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History of Marbles Display

Broken, faded and tattered, the box contained a few dozen marbles.  The owner, Duartean Nick Montalvo, beamed as he lifted the lid revealing its contents which he proceeded to remove one by one while reciting the history of each.  The box is known as a “time capsule” and the handmade marbles represent sixty years of marbles, a multigenerational collection going back to the 1840s up to the 1930s, handed down from fathers to sons for more than a century and a half.

At first glance they appear to be just marbles, but look closely and their personalities emerge.  Nick explains each one in almost a reverent manner.  They are like his personal friends and he treats each with respect.  “Here is a Bennington, made of crockery,” he says.  “And these are called ‘Chinas’ as they are made of porcelain and hand painted.”  Among them is an Indian Blanket marble made in Germany, a latticing swirl which reveals a net of colors inside when under light, and a Lutz, sparkling with gold flakes. Glass hand-made marbles were cut from a cane of glass with a cup to make the round shape. Their tell-tale mark is a flat spot on top. 

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Duarte Historical Society
277 Opal Canyon Rd.
Duarte, CA 91010
(626) 357-9419
Formed in 1952, this non-profit society is staffed by volunteers dedicated to preserving local history and operating the museum for the benefit of visitors, including students, from throughout the San Gabriel Valley.