Despite claims to the contrary, we have no evidence of Thomas Jefferson's personal interest in the game of marbles or ownership of a collection of marbles. The first known appearance of this claim dates from 1972. It was repeated in 1973 in Fred Ferretti's The Great American Marble Book, and in a subsequent article by Ferretti on marbles for the Encyclopedia Americana.
There are a number of letters where Jefferson refers to "marbles," meaning mineralogical specimens. These references may have contributed to the confusion regarding Jefferson's interest in "marbles."
Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest. Curtilage. Playing marbles have been found during archaeological excavations at Poplar Forest, Jefferson's plantation in Bedford County, Virginia. The marbles were found at the site of an antebellum slave cabin.
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902