My family

52 Ancestors: Week 38 – Fun and Games

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. I should by now be writing week 52, but study, work and life got in the way. I’m aiming to catch up over the 12 days of Christmas.

The “Fun and Games” prompt reminded that I have my grandfather’s bagatelle board behind the sofa. We do occasionally get it out to play, there is a pot of ball bearings to be used with it. The game is to shoot the balls along the channel so that they roll down and fall into one of the traps marked out with nails. Different traps have different scores. Any balls that roll right to the bottom score zero.

My nephew Matthew playing with his great grandfather’s bagatelle game Christmas Eve 2017.

A bit of time on Google this morning tells me that this is a Parlour or Pin Bagatelle game, and it was hugely popular in the 1880s. It is the forerunner of the modern pinball games.[1] This particular version seems to have been manufactured in the 1930s, so it would have been Grandpa’s in his teens.[2]

When I asked Mum about the origins of the board she wasn’t sure, but said that she “much preferred the green baize one that was played with a snooker cue.” I have no memory of that game, and Mum thinks it was thrown away while she was at college as the base was damaged. Apparently it was something like this: which is another form of bagatelle, also known as bar billiards.[3]

E.J. RILEY Antique Vintage Folding Table Bagatelle Board Pub Billiards Snooker sold on eBay

What games have been passed down, or lost, in your family?

Other posts about this family


[1] Masters Traditional Games. The Rules of Parlour/ Pin Bagatelle. : accessed 28 December 2021.

[2] Severn Beach Antiques. 1930s large corinthian wooden bagatelle game with balls. : accessed 28 December 2021.

[3] donkeypong. Bagatelle: the Common Ancestor of Pinball and Pachinko. : accessed 28 December 2021.

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