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Victorian Games


Victorian Games

Here are the games that we at Masters Traditional Games regard as 'Victorian' in the sense that they were either popular during the late 1800s or were invented during the Victorian era.



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Some board and table games that children played during the Victorian era were already centuries old. Examples of some of these old favourites included Draughts / Checkers, Chess, Dominoes and Backgammon. But hundreds of new board games were invented in the 1800s, and they taught children about geography, science, or history. Others taught children values such as good behaviour and hard work. Some classic games that were part of this golden era for parlour games invention were Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Happy Families, Halma, Squails and magnetic fishing.


We know this game today as "Pick-up Sticks". It was a very popular Table Game during the Victorian era. Players used a pile of wood splinters or straws, while today's versions of the game use wooden or plastic sticks. There were also very fancy sets that used "straws" made of ivory. The sticks were dropped in the middle of a table and each player took a turn removing a stick from the pile, while not moving any other stick. Jackstraws is a modern version of this game.


The most common marble game played was called "Ring Taw". It's the same game that children play today. A circle is made from string, or drawn on the ground with chalk, or in the dirt. The marbles that were placed inside the circle were called, nibs". The players crouched outside the ring, and each took a turn flicking a large marble, called "the shooter", into the circle. The goal was to knock other marbles out of the circle, and each player got to keep the marbles that he/she knocked out. The winner was naturally the player with the most marbles.

Tiddleywinks (invented in these times)

While most everyone has certainly heard of "Tiddly Winks", few people really know how this game was actually played. Players used a disk called a "shooter" to flip smaller disks, called "winks", into a cup that sat in the middle of the playing area or table. The aim of the game was to be the first player to sink all of his/her "winks" into the cup. During the Victorian era, the game was taken quite seriously, and players practiced intensely during their spare time.

For completeness Billiards, Snooker, Rounders, Football (soccer), Croquet, Tennis were all codified in England in the late 19th century although some of these games had been played for centuries in a less formalised form prior to that.

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