Gaming in Revolutionary America

As I mentioned last week, I spent part of my vacation in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Although I always keep an eye out for games when I travel, I didn’t have to look far in Williamsburg: the place was positively full of them.

If Colonial household inventories are any indication, then Colonial Virginians were positively mad for their games. They were played by families, as part of social gatherings, and in taverns and coffeehouses. Checkers, chess, dice, cards, Fox and Geese, Nine Men’s Morris, Shut the Box, the Game of Goose, and others were common items in homes and public places. This was in marked contrast to some of the New England colonies, which still banned almost all such activities due to the lingering Puritan influence.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to post photos and scans of some of the items I picked up, and talk a bit about the games being played in America as we headed towards Revolution.