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Ovation: The Reappearance Of Anne Frank’s Marbles.


Bron en copyright foto Fotocollectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam/Anne Frank Fonds Basel

Like many children of my day, I went through a period where “playing marbles” was all the rage.  We never drew a circle on the ground like some kids but, instead, we would make our circle from a long piece of string.  My brother was much better at the game than I was and accumulated many, many more marbles in his collection.  I focused my attention on a small collection of fabulous “shooters”.  The shooter was the larger marbled that was used to knock the smaller marbles out of the circle to win the game.  My prized possession was a clear marble that I never used for game play … it was only for display.

Certainly kids today would find the pastime excruciatingly boring.

Shortly before she and her family went into hiding on July 6, 1942, Anne Frank, gave some of her toys to a friend for safekeeping.  Among her prized possessions was a tin of marbles.  Anne and her friend, Toosje Kupers, had regularly played on the streets of their Amsterdam neighborhood and she trusted her to look after her marbles, a tea set and a book.

AnneFrank'sMarblesThe rest of the story is well-known, the Frank family spent twenty-five months in cramped quarters, with little but an occasional glimpse of the world, hiding from Jewish persecution by the Nazis, as the story was told in Anne’s own words in her now widely read diary.

And all the while Kupers kept Anne’s belongings.  After the war ended, she offered them to Anne’s father, Otto Frank, the only member of the family to survive the Holocaust, but she was told that she could keep them.

So she kept Anne’s toys, all but forgotten yet safe from harm, for decades until just over a year ago when they were rediscovered as Kupers prepared to move.

“She discovered she had the marbles somewhere at home in the attic.  She immediately contacted us. … We were thrilled that the marbles survived and had been kept.  She decided to give everything to the Anne Frank House – the book, the tea set and the marbles.” – Teresien da Silva, Head of Collections, The Anne Frank House Museum.

AnneFrankHuisThe book, which Anne received for her thirteenth birthday, as well as the tea set, have already been displayed by The Anne Frank House Museum, but the marbles will be featured for the first time in Kunsthal  Rotterdam as part of the exhibition The Second World War in 100 Objects which opens to the public today.

For children during that time, marbles were treasured and they worked very hard to win them and to keep them.  It was quite common for Jewish children to give away their toys before going into hiding or being deported.  Anne Frank must have taken good care of her marbles because, while they are old, they are said to be in good condition.

I wish I still had my childhood collection.  They’d probably bring a pretty penny in an antique mall.

Did you play marbles as a child?


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From → Ovations

  1. Great story. At least Justin Bieber did not end up with them on his visit. We did play with them, in interesting ways, at least to us. We used to play a makeshift baseball game with baseball cards laid out on the nine positions on the field. The owner of the defense would roll the large marble and the owner of the offense would use a pencil as a bat and swing at the marble. If the batted marble rolled over a defensive card, the batter was out. We played the traditional marble games as well.


  2. thedogs'mother permalink

    I remember walking Marble Alley as an elementary school child in Canada. The kids dug out arenas in a sandy edge at the end of the play field.


  3. I had bags and bags of them… I remember being pro at whatever version of marbles we played, but for the life of me I can’t remember what that was lol. I don’t remember there being a circle of any sort though, but I could be wrong. I remember moon rocks and cats eyes, and I remember some being big and some being medium and some being normal… Yeah that’s about it. But I remember having a master collection and the envy of all my friends 🙂 and i definitely had several of those clear ones you mentioned, in all sizes…ahhhhh good times. I wonder whatever happened to them. I also wish I knew where my pogs were lol.


    • We called the big ones “boulders” and we used them to shoot at the smaller ones. Cats eyes were a hot commodity, too!

      I was too old to get caught up in the pog craze but my younger brother was a part of it. I’d forgotten all about them!


      • OMG yes, I completely remember the term boulders! And I remember that moon rocks and cats eyes were the bees knees. Lol I gotta go digging through my parents storage, I’m feeling all nostalgic now!

        Yes, I was on the tail end of my childhood during the log phase, so the ones I held in high value were the ones that were kinda fuzzy and had those 1940’s characters that said odd catch phrases about pogs… And you didn’t want the knock off pogs of course. Wow. When Nintendo, commodore 64, and Sega, and those terrible computer DOS games, were the only real entertainment available technology-wise, we sure knew how to fill our time!


      • OMG those are totally the pogs I’m talking about… And then the poison ones… And the thick metal and plastics… not that I remember what we did with any of it lol


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