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P-Toys-Balls-art - 11/6/18


"Period Toys - Balls" by Lady Anja Snihova,


NOTE: See also the files: Balls-art, Boules-Bocce-art, Mkng-Med-Toys-art, toys-msg, Toys-in-th-MA-art, lea-bladders-msg, Marbles-art, Football-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



You can find more work by this author on her blogs at:





Period Toys - Balls

by Lady Anja Snihova


Balls, or at least things to throw or roll, are one of the oldest toys. Extant ones are not easy to come by, since toys get loved to death. A lot of balls can be misidentified, as well. Some come apart into bits of unidentifiable leather, cord and filling. Rocks look like rocks. Wood rots or gets burned. Wool can mold or mildew. Paper and reed disintegrate. Bladders pop and land in the midden. Ceramics break into unidentifiable bits. Gold and silver ones (and they did exist) often got melted down for the precious metal. So, there aren't that many still in existence.


Marbles, a subset of balls - There are extant ones from Pompeii and Egypt. Probably nuts and/or smoothed river rocks were the earliest, and a couple of millennia of clay, wood, stone and glass ones exist, but tiny balls get mislabeled. There are lots of references to marbles and marble games in period.


Solid balls were made of wood, felted wool, ceramic and stone or were ostentatious baubles of precious metal. Nuts were often used in the same games. Glass ones were known; small marbles in late period.


Inflated ones were bladders of pigs, goats, sheep, cows and fish and were not very regular. From the late Roman era some examples of ones made of dried flattened reeds, and straw can be found, but most of these are known only from literary mention. Paper "balloons" probably didn't exist in Europe as other than as curiosities and that would be post Silk Road opening up.


Filled ones had covers of leather (some extant), fabric (ditto, canvas) and more exotic skins, particularly those of fish, snake and eel. Centers that can be documented are of moss, linen and hemp waste, spoiled wool, horse or other hair, pebbles, sand and feathers and nameless fibers mixed with clay.


There's a full-length version of this article, with color pictures, sources and links, on my blog at https://anjasquest.wordpress.com/tasks/toys/balls/


A page on my experiments - http://wp.me/P64CxW-6o


Instructions on making a simple one for yourself - http://wp.me/P64CxW-6m



Copyright 2018 by MaryAnne Bartlett. <anjasnihova at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org