Excerpt from the book: EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS
Many of the stone marbles were beautifully variegated, and now and then a fancy pet was treasured under the name of “taw,” which had somewhat the virtues of a talisman, for to “lose it or to give it” were “such perdition,” as Othello says, as could never be exceeded.
Of late years, marbles, like all other matters, have undergone considerable change. Foreign marbles have been introduced, prodigiously cheaper, it is true, than our old English marbles, but infinitely worse; and various kinds of “patent marbles” have had their day.
Some of these go by the name of Dutchmen, others are called Frenchmen, and others again Chinamen, while it is not quite impossible to procure some right old English marbles, which, if they can be procured, are still the best. We would advise all marble players to procure these, if they can, as “marbles” is a royal game, and ought to be duly honoured.
How to Shoot your Marble
The art of holding a marble to shoot it properly seems to be lost among our London boys, who are generally content to throw one marble at another, or if they shoot it to hold it in the turn of the fore-finger, forcing it out by the thumb, which is placed behind it.
This, in our boyish days, was held to be a very illegitimate way of proceeding, derogatory to the true marble-player, and bore the dishonourable appellation of “fulking,” and any one who made it his rule to hold a marble in such a manner was looked upon as a charlatan, or almost a cheat.
The true way to hold your taw is to place it between the point of the forefinger and the first joint of the thumb, and to propel it from the nail of the thumb with strong muscular force; and so great was the skill attained by many boys, that they would sometimes strike a marble at five yards’ distance, and frequently shoot one to six or seven.
BOUNCE EYE – Marble Game
This game is played by several players, each of whom puts down a marble in a small ring.
One player then stands in a perpendicular position over the cluster of marbles, and, taking his own bounce in his hand, lets it fall from his eye on to the heap, and those forced out of the ring by this method are considered won.
If he does not succeed in this, and his marble falls within the ring, it belongs to the common stock, and is there impounded.
CONQUEROR – Marble Game
There is a game called “Conqueror,” which is extensively played in some places. A piece of hard ground, and free from stones, is chosen for the spot. The first player lays his marble on the ground, and the second throws his own at it with all his force, and endeavours to break it. If he succeeds, his marble counts one, and the vanquished player lays down another marble. If two players have marbles that have already vanquished others, the “Conqueror” counts all the conquered of the other party in addition to his own. For example, suppose A, being conqueror of twenty, breaks B, also a conqueror of twenty, A counts forty-one, i. e. twenty of his own, twenty for the vanquished belonging to B, and one for B itself.
Nuts, chestnuts, and other similar objects are also employed in this game, only they are fastened to a string, and swung against the opponent, instead of being thrown.
DIE SHOT – Marble Game
This is a very good game, and requires both skill and caution.
It is played by elevating a die upon a marble, whose sides are slightly ground down, so that it will stand firmly, and firing at it from an offing, which is generally at a distance of about four feet from it. The die-keeper undertakes to pay to the shooter who knocks down the die the number which falls uppermost, receiving one marble from each player as he shoots.
EGGS IN THE BUSH – Marble Game
This game is a great improvement upon odd or even.
Dick asks Tom to guess the number of “eggs in the bush”—that is, the number of marbles in his closed hand. If Tom can guess the right number, he takes all; but if he is out in his reckoning, he pays Dick as many marbles as will make up or leave the exact number.
Suppose Dick has six marbles in his hand; now, if Tom should guess either four or eight, he would have to forfeit two marbles to Dick, because four is two less, and eight is two more, than the exact number. The players hold the “eggs in the bush” alternately.
INCREASE POUND – Marble Game
In most respects resembles Ring taw, the variations being, that if before a marble is shot out of the ring one player’s taw is struck by another’s (excepting his partner’s), or if his taw remains within the ring, he puts a shot in the pound, continues in the game, and shoots again from the offing before any of his companions.
If his taw is struck after one or more marbles have been driven out of the ring, if he has taken any shots himself, he gives them to the player who struck him, puts a taw in the ring, and shoots from the offing, as before. If, however, he has not won any marbles during the game, before his taw is struck, he is “killed” and put out of the game; he is likewise out if, after any shots have been struck out, his taw gets within the pound—if it remains on the line it is nothing.
He then puts the marbles (if he has won any) into the circle, adding one to them for the taw struck, and shoots again from the offing. In case he cannot gain any shots after his taw gets “fat,” as remaining in the ring is termed, he is killed, and out for the rest of the game.
When only one marble remains in the ring, the taw may continue inside it without being “fat.” Each player seldom puts more than one marble in the ring at the beginning or a game.
KNOCK OUT, OR LAG OUT – Marble Game
Knock-out playing field
This game is played by knocking marbles against a wall, or perpendicular board set up for the purpose; and the skill displayed in it depends upon the player’s attention to what is called in mechanics the resolution of forces: for instance, if an object be struck against the wall at A from the mark at B, it will return again to B in a straight line; if it be sent from C to A, it will, instead of returning to C, pass off aslant to D, and its course will form the angle C A D; the angle of incidence being equal to the angle of reflection.
The game is played by any number of players: the first player throws his marble against the wall, so that it may rebound and fall about a yard distant from it; the other players then, in succession, throw their marbles against the wall, in such a way as to cause them to strike any of those already lagged out, and the marble struck is considered won by the owner of the taw that strikes it, in addition to which the winner has another throw. When only two boys play, each successively throws out till one of the “laggers” is struck, and he who strikes takes up all.
LONG TAW – Marble Game
Long taw is played by two persons in the following manner.
One boy places his marble on the ground at A, the other at B; then both retire to the spot C.
The first boy now shoots at B from a line marked at C.
If he strikes it, he takes it and shoots at A; if he strikes A, he then wins the game.
If, however, he misses B, the second boy then shoots at B; if he strikes it, he can then either shoot at the first boy’s taw at the place at which it lies, or he can shoot at A.
If he hits his opponent’s taw, he is said to kill him, and wins the game, or if he shoots at A, and hits it.
The boy who hits the last shot has the privilege of shooting at the taw of the other, provided it has not already been killed. If he hits it, the taw is taken, or the owner must pay one, and the game ends; and if he misses it, the game is then at an end also.
Long taw is a game seldom played by London boys, but is very common in the different English counties.
NINE-HOLES, OR BRIDGE BOARD – Marble Game
This game is played by means of a piece of board cut into the form of a bridge, having nine arches, and just large enough to let the marbles pass through, as in the subjoined diagram.
One of the players undertakes to be “bridge-keeper,” and the stipulation usually made is, that he should receive one for every unsuccessful shot, and pay to those who shoot their marbles through the arches the numbers standing over them.
The place from which the players shoot their marbles is generally about four feet from the bridge.
ODD OR EVEN – Marble Game
One player extends his closed hand containing some marbles, and asks his opponent to guess whether their number is odd or even.
Should he guess wrong, he forfeits a marble, and his questioner tries him with another lot; but should he guess right, the first player must pay him a marble, and take a turn at guessing.
PICKING THE PLUMS – Marble Game
Picking the plums
This game consists in each player placing a marble on a line drawn upon the ground thus, and the whole shooting at them in succession from a mark about four feet off.
The order of the shots is determined beforehand, by pitching at a marble from a six-feet offing, those nearest being first, second, third, and fourth in order, as the marbles lie.
The marbles knocked off the line are won by the respective shooters.
THE PYRAMID – Marble Game
In this game a boy generally sits upon the ground, with his legs open wide, and, making a small circle, places in it three marbles at the three points of a triangle, and the fourth on the top of them, so as to form a small pyramid.
A distance of about four feet is then chosen as the point to shoot from, and the other players shoot at the pyramid.
Those that strike it have all the marbles they knock out of the ring; but if they miss, they lose their shots.
RING TAW – Marble Game
Ring taw is a game requiring skill and judgment, and is a most excellent game.
It is played as follows.
Two rings are drawn upon the ground, a small one, six inches in diameter, enclosed by a larger one, six feet in diameter.
Into the small ring each player puts a marble, called “shot.”
The players then proceed to any part of the large ring, and from thence, as an offing, shoot at the marbles in the centre.
If a player knocks a marble out of the ring he wins it, and he is entitled to shoot again before his companions can have a shot. When all the players have shot their marbles, they shoot from the places at which their marbles rested at the last shot.
If the shooter’s taw remain in the small circle, he is out, and has to drop a marble in the ring, and he must put in besides all the marbles he had previously won in that game.
It is a rule, also, that when one player shoots at and strikes another’s taw, the taw so struck is considered dead, and its owner must give up to the striker of the taw all the marbles he may have previously won during the game.
The game is concluded when all the marbles are shot out of the ring, or all the taws are killed.
SPANS AND SNOPS, AND BOUNCE ABOUT – Marble Game
This consists of one boy laying down his taw, and, giving a distance, his antagonist shoots at it; if he misses, the first boy shoots at the taw of the second, till one is struck, which the striker claims. Bounce About is the same game played by throwing large marbles instead of shooting smaller ones, he who strikes the other’s bounce being the winner.
TEETOTUM SHOT – Marble Game
This is played on the same conditions as Die Shot. A teetotum is set spinning by the keeper, and, when in motion, any player is allowed to shoot at it, upon the payment of one marble, receiving, if he strikes, turns over, and stops the teetotum, as many marbles as are indicated on the side that falls uppermost. This is a very skilful game, and requires good shots.
THREE-HOLES – Marble Game
This game is played by making three holes in the ground, about a yard and a half or two yards asunder.
About two yards from the first hole a line is drawn. The right to shoot first is decided by chance.
The first shooter now knuckles down at the line, and endeavours to shoot into the first hole.
If he does this he proceeds to the second, then to the third, and wins the game; but this rarely occurs.
If he misses the first hole, the other players shoot their taws, and if neither of them enter the hole, the first shot immediately does so; and then he has the privilege either of proceeding to the second hole, or of killing the other men by shooting at and hitting them, when they must either give up their taws or drop one.
Sometimes a player will kill all his antagonists in succession without proceeding to any hole except the first, and thus wins the game; at other times the game may be won by any of the players killing their antagonists during any period of the game.
It is a rule that no one can “kill a taw” till he has been in the first hole.
TIPSHARES, OR HANDERS
This game is played by two or more players. To play it, a hole, of the diameter of three inches, is first made on a smooth or level piece of ground, and a line is marked at about seven feet from it.
Each boy puts down two, three, or four marbles, as may be agreed upon, and then the whole party bowl for their throws, by retiring to three times the distance already marked from the hole, and bowling one marble to it; the order of throws being determined by the nearness that each boy’s marble approaches the hole.
When this is settled, the first thrower takes all the marbles in his hand, and throws them in a cluster towards the hole.
If an even number falls in, such as 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, he wins all; but if an odd number falls in, he loses all.
“MARBLES ARE OUT”
Excerpt from the book:
EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS.
EDITED BY EDMUND ROUTLEDGE.
With more than Six Hundred Illustrations
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.