Sunday, 2 December 2012

Scoring Pub Games

Buying old pub games and the associated paraphanalia of play can sometimes throw up a few oddities. I've been after a decent branded chalk score board for some time now, and though this one doesn't exactly match my needs it was too nice a thing to pass by. But what was it originally designed to score?

Let's start with the Lion Ale branding which possibly originated from the Matthew Brown brewery. Matthew Brown brewed at the Lion Brewery in Blackburn until it was closed by Scottish & Newcastle in the early 90's. Having said that, Lion Ale is the sort of brand that could have been brewed in many parts of the world, indeed there was one such Pale Ale from New Zealand Breweries so it's hard to pin this down definitively to the north of England.

The scoring seems to relate to a deck of cards, yet most pub games would have used a Crib Board or other diminutive scoring method rather than a large board like this. It's possible that this would have scored another game such as Darts, of which there are many variations, at least one of which may be based on a card game.

This is a fairly typical Billiards Scoreboard, quite a simple model which may have been modified at a later date. Most of these smaller boards are fitted with brass markers, but what I like about this one is the attractive Boxwood and Ebony (or Ebonised?) markers, all four of which are still present and in good condition. The two sets of five drilled holes shown here may have been for pegs of some kind, giving the facility to score to 500 or more. To my eyes they look to be a later addition, and are certainly not the most elegant method of extending the scoring range of this board.

I've come across this particular Cribbage Board before. The central panel would originally have had a glass or perspex cover framing an advertising graphic for Englands Glory matches.

As you can see, it was in pretty poor condition when I bought it, held together with rusty nails and with two pieces of rough timber acting as feet. I managed to remove all the nails without further damage, and glued the various Boxwood pieces back together before adding a piece of black felt to the central area, a nice match to the remnants of Ebony inlay, and ideal for rolling a set of Poker Dice in.


Alan Greenwood said...

Looking over all my information on Matthew Browns Lion Brewery, Preston, I can find nothing quite resembling the style of lion brand sign at the top of the board. To me it looks similar to the style used by the Lion Brewery, New York. Except they specialised in Lager type beers rather than Ale type beer. What sort of place did you purchase it from?

Mark said...

Tucked away at the back of a small antiques shop in Wisbech, Cambs, though it's quite likely this has nothing much to do with its origin. It had been there for a while and the owner was surprised to see it after I'd dug it out. My first thoughts were a Lancs origin, possibly scoring the local cards/dominoes game All Fours. This has also been suggested by Arthur Taylor of Played At The Pub fame, but from what I've seen of the rules of these games, it just doesn't fit satisfactorily. I agree that in all the Matthew Brown images I've seen the Lion Brewery or Ale logo is subtly different.