hist-games: Names of False Dice

Alexx Kay alexx at world.std.com
Mon Aug 30 09:22:58 PDT 1999


Sorry it took me so long to respond, but I've been quite busy lately.  I've
done a fair bit of research into period crime, which overlaps with period
gaming quite a bit.  The following is a footnote from my edited version of
The Book of Coney-catching by Robert Greene which should go some
way towards explaining the various types of false dice.  More below:

"Cheats":  A general name for false dice.  The term is taken from the legal
jargon escheat, property which is reserved for a specific lord's use.
"Barred-Dice" & "Flats":  Barred-Dice are dice which are made into 'bars',
that is, they are slightly longer on one of their axes then on the other
two.  Flats are dice which are 'flattened', longer on one side than the
others.  These are the opposite of Barred-dice: a Barred Cater Trey will
almost never roll a four or a three, whereas a Flat Cater Trey will rarely
roll anything else.  The two kinds of dice are swapped in and out by sleight
of hand to suit the Cheater's needs.  "Forgers":  Clearly some sort of false
dice, but the exact meaning is obscure.  "Langrets":  A Barred Cater Trey
(see above).  "Gourds":  Dice with some of the sides scooped out slightly,
so as to make them less likely to roll those numbers.  "Demies":  Probably
short for "Demi-Bar", another kind of false dice, related in some way to
Barred Dice.

Also, "Bristles" are dice which are manufactured with one face having a
small
stiff horsehair sticking out, making it pretty impossible for the opposite
face to
come up.

FWIW, The Bellman of London is vastly plagiarized from earlier sources
(including Greene (who in turn plagiarized some of his 'own' stuff)).
Dekker's
infoon dice is mostly taken from "A manifest detection of the most vile and
detestable use of Diceplay, and other practices like the same..."

Hope this helps.
Alexx
alexx at world.std.com
http://world.std.com/~alexx


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