How To Shoot Marbles




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By Dan Beard


Fig. 5. 
"Cunny Thumb."

Cunny Thumb or Scrumpy Knuckled?

If Little Lord Fauntleroy played marbles, any boy could tell you how he would shoot. He would bold his hand vertically, place his taw or shooter against his thumbnail and his first finger. He would shoot "cunny thumb style," or "scrumpy knuckled." The thumb would flip out weakly (Fig. 5), and the marble would roll on its way.

Fig. 6. 
As Tom Would Shoot.

Tom Sawyer would lay the back of his fist on the ground or on his mole-skin "knuckle dabster," hold his taw between the first and second joints of the second finger and the first joint of the thumb, the three smaller fingers closed and the first finger partially open (Fig. 6). From this animated ballista the marble would shoot through the air for four or five feet, alighting on one of the ducks in the middle of the ring, sending it flying outside, while the taw would spin in the spot vacated by the duck. Tom or Huck Finn would display as much skill with his taw as an expert billiard player would with the ivory balls.

Fig. 7. 
Western Reserve and New York.

A Southern Way.

Down in Dixie I have frequently seen grown men, white and black, playing marbles, and one or two of the expert players held their taw on their second finger, holding the second finger back with their thumb; then suddenly removing the thumb and straightening out the finger, they sent the marble, like a bullet, straight to the mark. This manner of shooting must require much practice, and I doubt if it is more accurate than the one just described as Tom's method. Some boys, skilful in the game, squeeze the marble they shoot with between the thumb ad the forefinger, wetting it with their mouth to make it slip quickly.

Fig. 8. 
Another and Better Style.


The Arabian Way of Shooting.

The dark-faced little Arabs have a curious manner of shooting. They place their taw in the hollow between the middle and the forefinger of the left hand, the hand being flat on the ground with the fingers closed. The forefinger of the right hand is then pressed firmly on the end joint of the middle finger, which pushes the middle finger suddenly aside, and the forefinger slips out with sufficient force to propel the shooter very accurately.

There are innumerable games of marbles in vogue in different sections of the country. I have watched the boys play in every State east of the Mississippi River, and between the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Northern Lakes, and will describe the most popular games.







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Last modified: October 15, 2016.