Q: I inherited this statue of a boy shooting marbles several years ago. It’s copper clad plaster. It says “The Marble Shooter at Atlantic City” on two sides of the base and “Presented to Robert Wright by the City of Atlantic City” on the front of the base. It’s 13 inches by 11 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches. It’s signed and dated 1925. Who were the marble shooters?
A: The Marble Shooter represents the marble shooters, called “mibsters,” who participated in the National Marbles Tournament held on Atlantic City in 1925. The first national tournament was a promotional event held by Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia in 1922. The tournament moved to Atlantic City the next year. It has been held every year since 1922, except in 1944 and 1945 during World War II. It was recently announced that the 2020 tournament has been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. A virtual tournament will be held instead June 21-25. You can contact the National Marbles Tournament at nationalmarblestournament.org for details. The 1925 tournament included the first girl to compete. A separate division for girls started in 1948. Today thousands of local tournament winners, age 7 to 14, compete in the national tournament held in June the week after Father’s Day. A champion and a sportsmanship winner are chosen in both boys’ and girls’ divisions, and college scholarships are awarded. It’s signed by the sculptor, Pietro Ghiloni, an Italian immigrant who came to the United States in 1892. He worked for various artists and architects. We have seen another example of this statue with a different person’s name on it.
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