Bone Spillikins - 1880


Played the same way that early versions of Jack Straw and the American 'pick up sticks' are, the difference with spillikins comes withe the playing pieces. Jack Straw games were originally played with uniform pieces of straw (though wooden or plastic farming tools are generally used now.) Pick up sticks are made of wood or plastic, of uniform length, sometimes with knobs on the ends. Spillikins meanwhile, were crafted from wood or ivory and could be blunted or rounded depending on the set. So now you know!

Rules of the game:

  1. The object of the game is to pick up the most sticks.
  2. To begin the game, a bundle of sticks are somewhat randomly distributed so that they end up in a tangled pile. The more tangled the resulting (dis)array, the more challenging the game. In some versions of the game, any isolated sticks, or sticks lying alone, are removed.
  3. The first player attempts to remove a single stick, without moving any other stick. In some versions of the game, players use a tool to move the stick away from the pile; this 'tool' may be one of the sticks, held aside before the game begins. In other versions, players must pick up the sticks by hand. In either case, players must not move any other sticks while attempting to remove the chosen stick; if any other stick moves, his or her turn ends immediately. Players who successfully pick up a stick can then have another turn; the player keeps removing sticks until he or she causes a secondary stick to move.
  4. The game is over when the last stick is removed. The winner is the player with the highest number of sticks picked up.

Forty five carved and decorated bone spills, all housed in a little box.


Grade 1 Excellent under the Hoyles Vintage Grading System.