Tops and marbles both have a long history in gaming in the Western world. Many popular games in New Mexico developed over time to involve throwing tops or rolling marbles. The marbles seen here represent the vast variety of types and sizes that could fill a child’s collection. From stone to glass or even ceramic, marbles like these could be played with in virtually any setting. The tops shown here represent two differing styles of tops: round twirlers or “teetotums” and a flat bodied top. Wooden tops, like those seen here, were frequently hand painted and had steel or other metal tips. Rounded tops were typically “thrown” with a string wrapped around the body of the top and whipped back by the child’s hand. A flat body top could be “thrown” by hand without the use of a string.
New Mexico History Museum. Tops are a gift of Phyllis Harroun.
Photo by Blair Clark, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
Note: Representative image at left is often cropped for display purposes. Downloaded high-resolution images are not cropped.