Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Compendium of Shove Ha'penny Images

Now here's a thing you don't see very often these days. I wonder at which 'Star' this Shove Ha'penny Shield was played for. Perhaps the Star Inn, Bath which is well known for having an old wall mounted slate in the bar. Perhaps not though, as this was found in a junk shop near the Lincolnshire coastline.

Before the advent of widespread commercial production, most if not all Shove Ha'penny Boards would have been home made, or at the very least locally fabricated by a craftsman. It seems to have been around the war years that the game first began to be exploited by games manufacturers such as Jaques, K&C, Wisdens etc. The standardisation of boards which resulted was also accompanied by a range of specially manufactured Shove Ha'penny Tokens. For the most part these were simply Brass washers, stamped or otherwise branded with the manufacturer's logo, perhaps silvered on one side to make them more attractive. The tokens shown here are fairly modern ones, effectively reproductions of the original half pennies already used for the game. This design of token came with the cheaper laminated boards marketed by House of Marbles, Past Times etc. They work very well due to having raised edges on the underside which present the minimum resistance to sliding up the board.

Laminate boards like the one shown here have good and bad points. The laminate surface is certainly nice and smooth, and when in good condition a tad more even than many solid wood boards and not prone to warping. The lighter inlaid bed lines can make determining whether a coin is a scorer or not a little easier than the deep grooves of the more traditional design. Of course a major plus point is that if bought new, these boards are inexpensive and relatively easy to source.

Perhaps the major drawback of cheaper veneered boards is the greater susceptibility to damage. Any kind of dent to the edges is likely to also damage the particle board on which the thin laminate is glued, and this can prove difficult to repair. Worst of all is the potential for water (or beer) damage, which will almost certainly expand the particle board causing splits to the edge like that shown below. Water damage on a traditional board will usually only result in staining to the wood, whereas a laminate board may develop an uneven 'bubbled' surface when the particle board expands. This is almost impossible to repair, and if particularly bad could result in the board being suitable only as firewood!

One final thing which goes against laminate boards. In my opinion, they don't look nearly as nice as solid wood and brass!

The board shown here is another inexpensive plywood model, only of note because unusually the grain of the playing surface runs crosswise rather than the usual length ways. As a consequence, this board was quite a slow one when I bought it, and has subsequently needed a good deal of work with fine sandpaper and wax polish to achieve a good playable surface. Nevertheless, it's an attractive piece of stained plywood, flat and in good condition with a nice Brass end stop.

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