hist-games: Holzroulette - modern or historical?

ADRIAN SEVILLE adrian.seville at btopenworld.com
Thu Feb 9 15:06:36 PST 2006

  You might be interested to compare the game called 'Devil among the Tailors' where a spinning top is used to knock down skittles.  It is described in Joseph Strutt's book, Sports and Pastimes of the English People, first published in 1801:
  There is a childish pastime which may well be inserted here, generally known by the ridiculous appellation of the Devil among the Tailors; it consists of nine small pins placed like skittles in the midst of a circular board, surrounded by a ledge with a small recess on one side, in which a peg-top is set up by means of a string drawn through a crevice in the recess; the top when loosed spins about among the pins and beats some, or all of them, down before its motion ceases; the players at this game spin the top alternately, and he who first beats down the pins to the number of one-and-thirty is the conqueror. This game, I am told, is frequently to be seen at low public-houses, where many idle people resort and play at it for beer and trifling stakes of money

Cris <cris at pastymegames.com> wrote:
      I have recently obtained a game called Holzroulette. One of game's instructions called the game Deutsches Roulette, but the packaging is calling it Holzroulette. No indication that either name is a proprietary or trademarked name. It's a small (about 10"), rougly square plate, with a concave round "dish" cutout where a top can be spun inside. Tiny balls are struck by the dradle-like nib of the top and flung into divits and "pockets" that each score differently. There is a red ball, a blue ball, and four white balls. All of the packaging is in German, but I have a friend who is fluent in German. There are game instructions roughly as follows:
  One to four persons play to a set number of points (typically 1000). The red ball scores double; the blue score is minus the score it lands in. The remaining points are as-is. If you pocket every ball, you get to spin again, otherwise, play goes to the next person. If you have over 900 points, only the red ball counts as a score (no word on whether the blue ball still subtracts points). Balls that leave the field are dead for that spin.
  What I would like to know is: how old is this game? Is it really of German origin? I assume it to be a relatively modern game (at least late 19th century) and a variant of the standard roulette game, but I am only basing that on intuition. I can find no documentation covering this game.
  An image of the game can be seen here: http://woodexpressions.com/499009.jpg
  It's okay to let your mind go blank, but please turn off the sound...
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