Skip to main content

The forecast calls for heat and humidity

The Highland County Press - Staff Photo - Create Article
Christine Tailer

By Christine Tailer
HCP columnist

We looked ahead to the long-range weather forecast and sighed to see that the auction was going to be held on the only relatively cool, dry day, for days to come. The rest of the forecast called for day after day of deplorable heat and high humidity, punctuated with occasional rain showers. 

We had so many outside chores that needed doing, all of which involved hard physical labor. We needed to pull vines off the stone wall that runs up the hill beside the cabin. We really should be gathering up rock from the creek bed and lay it down as a “patio” behind the cabin, and then the pigeon gazebo has been more than ready for a good cleaning, not to mention that I really should be pulling suckers from the tomato plants. 

Still, we decided that we would go to the auction. We reasoned that all of these chores could be undertaken later, in the heat and humidity. After all, the date of this auction had been marked on my calendar for weeks. 

Greg smiled at the thought of the long drive ahead, a chance to leisurely savor his hot cup of coffee. We started off, heading up the creek valley road, and then east, across the river, and up into the Appalachian hills. Finally, coffee long gone and four hours later, we arrived.

It was all I could do not jump out of the truck and run across the parking lot and into the hall to sign up for my bidder's number. I stepped to the pavement, calmly closed the door behind me, and waited patiently for Greg to walk around the truck and join me.

Greg found us two seats in the back of the room, while I got my number from the table up front. No more than 15 or so folks were bent down over two tables, each laden with neatly labeled plastic baggies, containing anywhere from one to 50 marbles. 

Occasionally, one of the lookers would pick up a bag and turn it over slowly, peering intently at the glass orbs within. I noticed that each potential bidder was carefully taking notes, no doubt marking down lot numbers and thoughts on value and maximum bid.

I carefully tucked my bidder's card into the back pocket of my jeans, No. 23, and I too bent down to peruse the different lots. I was happy being bidder 23. I reasoned that there would likely not be much competition, but truly, I believed that the main reason for being there was to learn from these learned folks, several of whom had worked in the now-shuttered marble factories, and others whose families had been longtime marble makers. The greatest thing I could take away from this drive to the very heart of marble country was knowledge. 

I listened intently as I joined the group of the potential bidders while they passed the numbered bags between them and commented on the contents. Akro Agates, Peltiers, Master Marbles, Champions, Christensens, Alley Agates, and more. I took notes, and even though I was not really certain of value, I still decided how high I would bid on several sets of marbles I did not already have in my collection.

There were 84 lots in all. Some lots contained several individually valuable marbles, that I was certain would be broken down into bids for successive choice. There were even quite a few jars of brightly colored glass cullet, chunks of glass from which the marbles were made.

Finally, everyone took their seats, and the auction began. The auctioneer held up a lot and called out his magical chant. I soon realized that 23 was the highest bidder number, and it then dawned on me that Greg was not the only supportive companion in the crowded room.

When the auctioneer held up the fourth lot, eight beautiful slag marbles, dating to the 1930s. He asked for $40. The room was silent. He dropped to $30, and silence still reigned. Then he called for $20, $15, $10 and finally $5. I held my hand high from the back of the room.

"Do I hear seven-fifty, seven-fifty, seven-fifty?" The auctioneer’s eyes scanned the room. I could not believe the silence, and then finally he called out "sold to the lady with the big smile in the back of the room," and that was all it took. I was off and bidding. 

In time, when there were no bids on a lot, the auctioneer took to looking me square in the eye and saying “Five dollars?” I would nod, and he would reply “Sold to No. 23.”
My pockets were quickly filling. I was glad to have worn baggy pants. I figured that these ever so knowledgeable collectors simply did not need to add any of these more common marbles to their collections, while I, on the other hand, was thrilled to do so.

In time, I began to talk with the other collectors, in between my $5 and $10 lots, and yes, some of the marbles did sell for hundreds of dollars, and I learned. I curiously noticed a gentle camaraderie among the bidders. Often, when a lot was won, others would approach to congratulate the high bidder. I also soon realized that my fellow collectors had come better prepared than I, and had various sizes of small plastic baggies into which they would carefully place their winnings. Still, I could not have been any happier as I stuffed my pockets.

The drive home passed in an instant. I couldn’t wait to get back to the creek. I imagine that I could have stayed awake all night, sorting through my marbles, but by the time we got home it was almost dark and the animal chores needed doing. 

I carefully lay the contents of my pockets out across the downstairs workbench. I knew that many hours of careful sorting lay ahead. In my childhood I might have considered such marble time as playing, but now I consider it more a matter of peacefully losing myself in a world of magical learning and sharing. 

Greg and I headed out to do the evening chores. I knew that sometime soon, there would be an extremely hot and humid day just waiting for me to “play” at my bench in the cool downstairs. And yes, the forecast calls for continued heat and humidity.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at 

Add new comment

This is not for publication.
This is not for publication.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it. Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.