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CRIBBAGE BOARDS IN THE HORATIO COLONY MUSEUM COLLECTION By Anita Caroll Weldon, Museum Diector A BRIEF HISTORY OF GAMING Games predate written history. The children of contemporary tribal people play games that are likely similar to games played by the children of our earliest ancestors and which may encourage the development of skills that are useful in survival activities. Several ancient cultures are credited for the development of classic games that we know today. Ancient Egyptians invented the game of Dice; cards were invented by the Chinese. There is historical evidence of people engaging in various games. The ancient Romans gambled at dice. The French played games of physical skill like quoits, nine pins and bowls, rather than games of chance. Perhaps the most famous is drawing lots in the Bible. The Olympic games where the first formal competition of sport games. They were held every four years beginning in 776 B.C., until the end of the 4th century A.D. The Olympic games as we know them today, began in Greece in 1896. The earliest complete set of gaming equipment , the Royal Game of UR, which dates to 3,000 B.C. was found in the ruins of the ancient city in Iraq. This game was similar to checkers. Checkers as we know it today dates back to 1400 B.C. Modern Chess, known in Persia as Shatranj, is about 2000 years old. Chess was developed from an Indian or Persian game known as Chaturanga from 4000 years ago. Today's queens, knights and bishops took the place of elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers used in Chaturanga. Early European explorers brought chess and cards to North America. THE HISTORY OF CRIBBAGE The invention of Cribbage is attributed to a writer of prose, plays and poetry, Sir John Suckling (16091642) of Middlesex, England, around 1630. Born into a prominent family, Sir John inherited extensive estates on his father's death in 1626. He pursued a military career, serving in the army of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years' War. He was knighted in 1630 and returned to the English court, where he became very popular through his wealth and charm. Sir John developed a reputation as a Cavalier poet, playboy and gambler. The latter no doubt came about because he was both skillful and lucky at cards. This experience may have enabled him to invent Cribbage, which was a development of sixteenth century Tudor game of Noddy and used a board with pegs to keep score similar to the ancient Egyptian game of Hounds and Jackals. THE COLONY MUSEUM CRIBBAGE BOARD COLLECTION The design of the Cribbage board has afforded an opportunity for human creativity resulting in possibly thousands of versions, both manufactured and handmade. Materials range from various kinds of wood, metal, ceramic, ivory and bone, Bakelite, paper and plastic. Because they have been produced for over 350 years, they have become another area of antique collecting. Horatio Colony possibly assembled one of the first extensive Cribbage board collections in the country, collecting over seventy Cribbage boards in the 1940's and 50's. This was perhaps his favorite area of collecting. The Cribbage board collection is eclectic and more of a survey, rather than focusing on one style, manufacturer or country. Although there are some pieces from the North America and Asia, most were made in England from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Here are a few examples of the collection: `Far East' Boards: Two boards in the collection are representative of those made in Japan and Hong Kong immediately after World War II. They are carved from ivory into wedge shapes with a small ivory screw peg to cover the storage opening for the board pegs. Floral designs and dragons are carved into the ivory along the peg board and across the bottom. Many of these were made by craftsmen, intended as souvenirs.

Prisoner of War Boards: In the 19th century, English prisoners of war were allowed to make items, which were sold to help finance their necessities. Many items were carved from bone remnants from meals. One such board was possibly made by a French prisoner. The box has a sliding peg board top, totally made of bone. The vertical sides of the box are covered with flattened pieces of straw of varying shades of brown, to simulate wood inlay. This board was made in the mid-1800's, in the form of box with a sliding top. The box is wood with carved and perforated bone applied to the surfaces with the Cribbage peg board glued to the top. The box stores a complete set of miniature playing cards, dominoes and Cribbage pegs ­ all made of bone! Exotics: Some of the more unusual include a cribbage board fashioned from the wooden but of a rifle; a `Tiki" board made in a triangular format from elaborately carved mahogany with abalone inlay ­ the carving depicts the face of an ancestor or god with a protruding tongue; a whole walrus tusk with scrimshaw patterns of fish, a seal and a walrus; an elaborately carved box with a slant top and a cribbage board of inlay ivory panels, the box opens to form a portable writing desk ­ it is possibly of English origin. Tunbridge Ware Boards: There are eleven Tunbridge Ware boards in the collection. Tunbridge Ware refers to natural-colored wood mosaic inlay items made in Tunbridge Wells, England, from approximately 1820 to 1920. Tunbridge Wells was a fashionable spa, which attracted visitors who wanted to take home souvenirs of their visit. The area had long been known for it's woodworkers. These local craftsman developed their products to suit the tourist, making a range of items for purchase, including toys, punch ladles, dressing boxes, snuff boxes, tea chests, miniature tea sets and cribbage boards. The items were made from local woods such as yews, cherry and holly. Later items incorporated exotic woods and ivory inlays.

English Tunbridge Ware ­ note Masonic symbol in center of the board.

Late Georgian Tunbridge Ware Manufactured Boards: American made boards include: · Meriden Britannia Company in Meriden, Connecticut, between 1852 and 1898. The board is a box with a pull-out drawer, made of silver plate with an embossed design on the sides. · C.W. Le Count Company of South Norwalk, Connecticut, 1830 to c. 1920. The board has a walnut base with a nickel plated steel top perforated with holes for Cribbage scoring. It has a side storage pocket with slider. · C.W. Le Count Company of South Norwalk, Connecticut, 1830 to c. 1920. A game set in a leather carrying case complete with two decks of playing cards. A Hedgehog Board made by John Gill Manufacturing of New York City, made in the mid to late 1800's. · "Priest's Indigestion Powder" board made by the American Manufacturing Concern, Falconer, New York, c. 1920. English Pub Boards: ·

England pubs were drinking establishments, amply scattered about cities, towns, villages and throughout the country side along well traveled routes. They were frequented by workers and simple folks and became the place to drink ale, have tea or get a meal of pub food, as well as a place to gather and socialize. Saloons were more up-scale watering holes for the wealthy. Even more exclusive were club rooms which required a membership to gain entrance. The well-to-do would sometime frequent a pub but the typical pub clientele would never go to a saloon. Since Cribbage was the most popular game in England and was the only card game that could legally be played for money in English pubs, many pubs and saloons had cribbage boards. Just like the furnishings of the more affluent clubs and saloons, the cribbage boards found in these establishments were more finely designed. The collection includes ten both pub and saloon boards, mostly made of brass and sometimes a combination of brass and exotic wood. Brass was mined in England and, therefore, commonly available.

English Saloon Boards

English Pub Board made by CBCS c. 1880 -1920 Bibliography & Web Links: Books: Cribbage Boards 1863-1998 The Gaming Table, Volume I by Andrew Steinmetz, Esq. Tinsley Brothers, London 1870 Tunbridge Ware by Margaret A. V. Gill Shire Publications England 1999 Tunbridge Ware & Related European Decorative Wood Wares by Brian Austin Foulsham 2001 Oxford History of Board Games by David Parlett Oxford University Press London 1999 www.cribbage.org www.tradgames.org.uk/games/Cribbage.htm by Bette L. Bemis Schiffer Publishing Coo. Atglen, PA 2000

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