Banded Opaque swirls are early German handmade marbles (many with a faceted pontil, indicating manufacture before 1880) and are made of soft opaque glass with surface bands of color, commonly multiple colors. If there were no banding at all, just an opaque glass ball, it’s referred to as an “Opaque” or sometimes “Melonball,” especially if there’s some translucency to it.
Banded Opaques are made with lightweight and very brittle glass that chips or cracks easily. Due to their light weight and lack of durability with play, they did not find favor among the early marble players, and slow sales dictated low production, thus scarcity among collectors.
Some Banded Opaques have a haphazard random banding pattern, and others are made with precision banding with a set pattern of color or organized bands. As a general rule, precision Banded Opaques are favored over randomly constructed Banded Opaques.
Most Banded Opaques are made of white matrix glass that can range from completely opaque to semi-translucent. Occasionally other uncommon matrix glass colors are seen and can include various shades of tan, amber, blue, green, grey, purple or lavendar, and would be more valuable.
Black Opaque marbles with surface bands are called Indian Swirls and are not technically a “Banded Opaque,” even though they fit the defining characteristics.
Most common sizes are 9/16-3/4”. Any Banded Opaque over ¾” regardless of color will generate a premium. Banded Opaques are rarely found 7/8” or larger.
End of cane or left twist examples of any color type Banded Opaques are rare!
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Rare Blue Base Banded Opaque$225.00 Size: 11/16"
Condition: Mint Minus
Unusual “Custard Swirl” Banded Opaque$175.00 Size: 11/16"