How Mr. Sturdevant Changed My Life

Marbles Fin

In the mid 1970’s there was a great antiques shop near Fayetteville called Sturdevant’s Station. Mr. Sturdevant was the quintessential antiques dealer. White-haired, he resembled a retired college professor with his sweater and dark-rimmed glasses. My mother and I often stopped there on our antique quests. Mr. Sturdevant always welcomed this little black-haired boy into his world of antiques, many times inviting me and my mother into his eclectic house for tea. There, we would explore his collections: tintypes (including one of Jesse James), antique firearms, powder horns, quilts, baskets, knives — the stuff of an 11-year-old’s dreams.

Mr. Sturdevant opened my eyes to collecting. He encouraged me to begin a collection myself, explaining the joys and the benefits of becoming an expert on a specific collection. My mother and I explored categories that interested me, but where to begin? Pocket Knives? Banks? Books? Watches? Indian Artifacts? Availability and my limited budget were factors to consider before starting my collection.


 

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Rare comic strip marbles

One Saturday morning, I purchased a jar of marbles at an estate sale. Proud of my $3 investment, my marble collection was launched. By that afternoon I was showing my new collection to Mr. Sturdevant. To my surprise, Mr. Sturdevant excused himself to the rear of his house, emerging with a wooden cigar box. As the lid of the box opened, I stood in awe. The box was filled with the most beautiful marbles… marbles of far greater beauty than mine. His collection was unbelievable. He started his collection as a child and built it over his lifetime. That cigar box was filled with magic to me. Mr. Sturdevant sat and identified the marbles for me — Sulphides, German Swirls, Mibs, Agates, Slags, Bennington, Clay IMG_0965and China Marble, sharing specific memories tied to each one. Mr. Sturdevant offered me the opportunity to purchase his personal collection of marbles for only $60, which was an act of kindness. I now realize Mr. Sturdevant priced his collection far below their value and within my budget.

A book was included with the purchase of the collection: The Guide to Antique Marbles, by Clara Ingram. An incredible world of books about antiques had been revealed to me! I soon discovered other books about antiques and my lifelong journey had begun.

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My first well worn antiques guide
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From Mr. Sturdevant himself
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My childish script

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you, Mr. Sturdevant, for revealing the world of antiques to this eleven-year-old boy in Northwest Arkansas. Luckily, I haven’t lost my marbles!

RD


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German swirls!  My favorites.
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Bennington crock marbles.
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Agates and tigers eye. That’s an agate not an olive!

 

 

 

 

 

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Joseph swirl. Discovered excavating for bottles along the Mormon trail in Utah.
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Agates, mica, glazed and unglazed China marbles. Very rare hollow steelie. All from the Sturdevant collection.
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An extremely rare sulphide angel.

2 thoughts on “How Mr. Sturdevant Changed My Life”

  1. Roy, this is so much fun. I loved learning how your mother and aunt were instrumental in teaching you how to become a collector and teaching you business. This story about marbles was very interesting. Can’t wait to read it to my son and nephew. It brought back fond memories. Thanks, Paula

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