Beach Glass Marble Identification?

by Frank
(Houghton Lake, Michigan)

Marble Identification?

Marble Identification?

~ sea glass question submitted by Frank, Houghton Lake, Michigan

Origins and or age of this beach marble?


I am wondering if anyone can shed some light on to the origins and or age of this beach marble I found.

This is the first summer that my wife and I have been searching for beach glass and we have become hooked on the hobby.

We live in Michigan and most of our searches are actually on inland lakes, where, surprisingly, there is a lot of glass to be found.

We have recently made a few trips to the shorelines of the great lakes, which brings me to my question.

This past Wednesday, while walking the shore of Lake Michigan, I found this dark brown glass marble and am wondering the possible origin, use, age, and rarity of finding one in the great lakes.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all,

Frank and Dawn

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Comments for Beach Glass Marble Identification?

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Aug 06, 2017
Marbles as sea glass discoveries
by: Bob Moquin

There is one small beach here on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where I have found more than 120 marbles over the past two years.

One theory as to their origin is that cargo ships would carry marbles (which were very inexpensive to make) as ballast (in order to maintain the ship's trim), then these would be jettisoned overboard as the ship took on additional cargo.

Most of the marbles I have found are well frosted and/or pitted, suggesting that they have been in the sea water a relatively long time. Always a special treat to find them.

Good luck in your sea glass hunting!

Hi Bob, thanks for the comment!

We must keep in mind that the theory that marbles were used as a ballast is just... a theory.

Definition of a theory: an explanation that has not been proven.

We have researched this theory and wonder who came up with the idea that marbles were used as ballast. We could find no historical basis for marbles ever being used as ballast.

We believe a mistake was made by someone along the line. Marble rock in slabs or chunks has been mentioned in historical records as having been used on occasion as ballast. But that is marble (singular and referring to chunks, slabs, or pieces of marble rock) and not marbles.

Ballast by definition is not for sale. The most common ballast was rocks that sailors would dig up from the nearest shore. Rocks are free. Marbles cost money.

An excellent and entertaining page about myths related to ballast is at History Myths - Bricks as Ballast. Although it deals mainly with bricks, the same principle applies. Bricks cost money; therefore they were not used for ballast in spite of many theories otherwise.

Marbles as ballast really should be defined not as theory but as myth.

In our humble opinion.

If anyone has facts to prove or disprove this myth, we would love to hear from you :)

~ David and Lin at

Oct 17, 2016
Marble book
by: David

Here's a really fascinating book on marbles, origins, etc with lots of photos.

Lin and I have this in our personal library for reference and highly recommend it:

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