The smiling chap in the Monks Habit on these Playing Cards is a reference to the Benedictine Monks who reputedly discovered Burton-on-Trent's highly regarded Gypsum-rich brewing waters. Marston's Brewery also used the image for their strong Merrie Monk Mild, as well as for a number of pubs including the now closed Merrie Monk in Dunton Basset, a former Leicestershire Table Skittles venue.
A well used brass Put & Take, a game which was very popular with servicemen during the war years, and seemingly purpose made for surreptitious gambling in pubs thereafter. The idea of Put & Take is that a Banker holds the stake, and depending on the fall of the spinner, either pays out or takes money from those playing. Needless to say the odds are always in the bankers favour so this role would be rotated throughout play. Put & Take pieces like this one can still be bought today, though it's hard to say just how much play goes on in the pub or elsewhere, given the relative ease of all manner of gambling pursuits nowadays.
These 'Darter's Luck' cards were printed for the Darts Club of the Alexandra Arms in Kettering in the 1950's, a pub already featured on this blog for its fine Northamptonshire Skittles Table. These cards were used as fundraisers for the team, passed around the pub, and paying out Four Shillings for a minimum Two Pence stake. The system has proved to be very durable, with almost identical 'Football Cards' still doing the rounds at pub game matches throughout the country. Indeed I was lucky enough to win the modern-day Four Shillings (more like £10) on the Ladies Skittle Team card at the Queen Adelaide, Kingsthorpe last year.
The chances are, if you spend time in a pub which is still frequented by a diverse range of locals, you'll come across a game of Dominoes being played. The game is certainly not as popular as it once was, it's a 'thinking' game of a type which doesn't seem to appeal to younger drinkers, but the game persists nevertheless. The chances are that unless you're in the Bolton area, you're unlikely to see anything other than the common six-spot dominoes in play.
Of course there's no reason why domino sets shouldn't come in other denominations to the standard six, and anything up to twelve spots is known. The higher the number of spots employed, the greater the number of tiles in a set, and in theory the greater the number of players in any one game. In practise though, most leagues in the UK and beyond stick with the tried and trusted six spot option. All except those leagues which operate in the Bolton area, where nine spot Dominoes like those shown above are the norm.
This board has almost identical spacings to a Stamford Pushpenny board, and the two-piece construction and thick copper stop bar suggests this has been homemade locally from a redundant piece of furniture.