1801-1818 ca. ‘Diablo, or devil on two sticks’. Lessons In The Devil Series Plate 55: Man teaching a woman how to play diabolo, or devil on two sticks. via 1801-1818 Le Bon Genre, French. Gentleman in blue tailcoat, high white shirt and cravat, pants and black shoes. Lady in white dress with high frilled neckline, long sleeves and wearing green walking boots. Hand-colored etching. Published by: Pierre La Mésangère. Via British Museum, London, UK britishmuseum.org (PD-Art)
Jane Austen and Games: In Jane Austen’s times, games were a part of daily life. Families played all sorts of games, indoors and outside, to pass the time, especially at house parties or family gatherings.
Diablo, Or Devil On Two Sticks: Double cone type of yo-yo that is twirled, spun, tossed and caught on a string attached to two hand sticks. The toy, or Diablo, is kept spinning by manipulating it back and forth along the string and by tossing into the air. Numerous tricks can be performed e.g. toss, trapeze, cat’s tail and the umbrella.
At Christmas time, households had guests to stay and games were played to either fill in the time inside when the weather was too bad to venture out with sleds or skates, or to keep tradition. Blind man’s bluff, forfeits, and snap dragon were all played.
A list of some entertainments for Christmas…From The book Of Christmas by Thomas kibble Hervey. “jugglers, and jack-puddings, scrambling for nuts and apples, dancing the hobby-horse, hunting owls and squirrels, the fool-plough, hot-cockles, a stick moving on a pivot, with an apple at one end and a candle at the other, so that he who missed his bite burned his nose, blindman’s buffs, forfeits, interludes and mock plays :” — also of ” thread my needle, Nan,” ” he can do little that can’t do this,” feed the dove, hunt the slipper, shoeing the wild mare, post and pair, snap dragon, the gathering of omens….
Snap Dragon A favorite game was Snap Dragon, often played on Christmas Eve. Raisins were put into a large, shallow bowl and brandy was poured over them and then ignited. Lights were extinguished to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The object of the game was to reach through the blue flames and grab as many raisins as possible from the flaming brandy and pop them into your mouth. The risk of burning yourself increased the excitement.
Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language in 1755 describes the. game as “a play in which they catch raisins out of burning brandy and, extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them”. According to an eighteenth-century article in Richard Steele’s Tatler magazine, “the wantonness of the thing was to see each other look like a demon, as we burnt ourselves, and snatched out the fruit.”
Snap-dragon was played in England, Canada, U/S.A, and probably other countries with British backgrounds. The words snap-dragon and flap-dragon can refer to the game, the raisins used in the game, or the bowl with brandy and raisins.
The first reference to Snap-dragon as a game is in Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1811. “Christmas gambol: raisins and almonds being put into a bowl of brandy, and the candles extinguished, the spirit is set on fire, and the company scramble for the raisins.” Snap-dragon as a Christmas parlour game was mentioned in 1836 in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers and in 1861, in Anthony Trollope’s novel Orley Farm. Lewis Carroll, in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There in 1871 describes “A snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plum pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy.”
Agatha Christie’s book Hallowe’en Party describes a children’s party during which a child’s murder causes Hercule Poirot to be brought in to solve the case and at which Snap-dragon is played at the end of the evening.
1812 Young Lady Playing Devil On Two Sticks, or, the “diabolo” game. The game was known as “The Devil on Two Sticks” in England at the time as the name “diabolo” was only invented later. Fashion Plate via Journal des Dames et des Modes, or Costume Parisien.
1700 ca. Chess and Backgammon Box, Augsburg. Decorated in violet wood veneer, ebony and ivory. Ivory checkers and chess pieces, hinges and push button lock in gilded brass, two horn goblets, two ivory dice, thirty-none checkers’ pawns stamped both sides with effigies of cities, Munich, Vienna, Nuremberg, Prague, Danzig, of kings and queens, Prussia, England, Scotland, Poland, and various scenes. Via AnticStore.com
1660-1700 ca. Gaming Purse, Probably French. Green velvet trimmed with copper-gilt thread. Gaming or gambling with cards popular 17th-century pastime and any gentleman or lady not playing games like Quadrille and Basset would have been considered ‘low-bred and hardly fit for conversation’ according to ‘The Compleat Gamester’, published in 1674. Typically, gaming purses had flat, circular bases with sides gathered on a drawstring. via Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. collections.vam.ac.uk.
A Plea Against the Rampant Gambling in the Regency Era. From: 1827 The Gentleman’s Magazine by Sylvanus Urban via Google Books (PD-150) ‘Two houses are being pulled down in St. James’ Street, presumably to add to the national disgrace which already stands there, a monumental outrage upon public decency. The affairs of a country are in the hands of political adventurers who dedicate their days and nights to a sel?sh, …Continue reading →
1660-1700 ca. Green Velvet Gaming Purse, Probably French. Trimmed with Copper-Gilt Thread, probably French. This purse was designed especially for gaming, or gambling, and would have held money, or counters, and is of a different design to other 17th-century purses. The base is a flat circle and the sides are gathered on a drawstring to stop money or gaming counters from spilling out, and to hide how much a gambler had in the purse. The bag’s plain look was probably a deliberate move to fool other gamblers into thinking the owner had little money.The purse is quite plain, with no embroidery and only a twist of copper gilt thread, gilt being a cheap substitute for gold or silver thread.
Playing and betting on card games was a socially acceptable pastime for the wealthy in the late 17th century. Along with dancing, riding and the theatre, it was an amusement for those classes that did not have to work. A gentleman or lady who did not participate in games such as ‘Quadrille’ and ‘Basset’ would have been considered ‘low-bred and hardly fit for conversation’ according to ‘The Compleat Gamester’, published in 1674. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.