hist-games: hist-games Digest, Vol 10, Issue 2

james at tradgames.org.uk james at tradgames.org.uk
Sat Feb 11 01:05:19 PST 2006


I have some info on this as I've recently become interested in this game.
(Actually, I have the very same modern version of the game in the link you
http://woodexpressions.com/499009.jpg.  It's called Tirolean Roulette on my
version.  Not sure if that means anything, however.)

The quote from Strutt that Adrian gave is actually rather misleading by
Strutt because Devil amongst the tailors has long referred to the English
pub game table skittles with a ball on a chain.  Perhaps in his day this was
indeed the term used for the game but I do wonder if he got confused or was
misled.  The game in question is in modern times known as Table a Toupie
(sorry French people - I can't do accents on my letters) in French and
Toptafel in Flemish.  It's also very popular in the USA where they usually
just call it "Skittles" (which confuses things considerably more).  I sell a
modern version in my shop mainly to Americans.

Adrian's implication of a link, is in my view, justified.  There is what
appears to be a geneological missing link.  There is a Victorian game called
Cannonade or Castle Bagatelle which is a large circular table with sides.
Around the sides are little rooms and in each a skittle (that looks like a
castle) like Toptafel.  However, instead of the spinning top knocking over
the pins, the top hits balls in the middle of the table and the balls have
to go through little hoop entrances into the rooms in order to topple the

So you see, in order to convert Cannonade into HolzRoulette, you simply need
to remove the pins.

One more point of interest - in Cassells book of fireside fun that mentions
Cannonade, it also says "There is a version of this game known at the toy
shops as the "Game of Bombardment".  It is a German introduction and
although not so good a game..."

So, is the game German or English?  It seems to be generally thought of as
German but Cannonade was published in 1854 by Jaques.  Does anyone have any
other dates?

James Masters

More information about the hist-games mailing list