I’ve Literally Lost My Marbles

Prior to having a system to keep track of my extensive collection of marbles, I frequently found myself to be a living caricature of the old joke.  And trust me – whether through actual disorganization, forgetfulness or error, we eventually all do lose our marbles.

When collections are small, we may not feel the need to meticulously record all those wonderful details.  After all, we can pull out that tray and lovingly cite from memory where we acquired each marble, at what price, and the amazing story behind how it became one of our prized treasures.  Then our collection grows.  Life presents its daily demands.  New collectibles with more similarities than differences join the ranks of glittering gems. And our memory grows a little less sharp with passage of years.  Sure, every visit to the cache may bring memories flooding back, but is there a better way?  

I started out with a notebook containing entries that corresponded to marbles stored in miscellaneous trays, bags, re-purposed plastic product packaging – you name it.  Although this freed some of the brain space that my personal collection had been constantly occupying, it exposed more questions and problems than it purported to solve.

OK – this says that this Akro Popeye is Near Mint.  Why was that?  Was it wear, pinpricks, or some subsurface moon that only revealed itself in the particular light of a particular day of the year?  

Why can’t I find the beautiful Peltier Poison Bee discovered and purchased at a garage sale years ago.  Was it sold, gifted, was it all just a wonderful dream, or did someone just move it to another tray?  

I couldn’t imagine ever losing track of such a treasure, but time and time again it happened.

That’s where my wife stepped in.  There is no question that Heather is the more organized one of us.  Perhaps it is an innate talent or maybe it was born from years of necessity – I’m not sure, and she won’t say.  But one day I watched as she stood agape amidst a myriad of piles, partially-filled trays, notebooks with loose sheets hanging out.  “Greg”, she said. “I need to you do something for me…”

That something was a database to manage all the various aspects of each marble, and was the precursor to Nichibles.

Fast-forward several years to today.  I absolutely trust in the value of Nichibles which has evolved from a simple desktop database (now Software-as-a-Service), mostly because it happened under Heather’s careful guidance and direction.  It isn’t just the organization and search-engine functionality that I appreciate – it is also the wonderful little details like the “featured collectible” that randomly displays one of our past or present treasures.   

I want to close with a few less-than-technical benefits I have experienced:

  • seeing the appreciation even in non-collectors when showcasing exactly what makes a marble special
  • avoiding that panic and stress that comes from having to ship a marble that was sold and cannot be found
  • knowing that your spouse is enjoying some quiet me-time, instead of standing agape amidst …

and finally, not having to suppress that oddly guilty look when someone accuses you of having lost your marbles.

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