The 1800s was the time 35 years before the industrial revolution. Many lives changed because this decade saw a lot of prestigious development in science. During this era, people engaged in simple professions such as tenant farmers or traders and merchants. To think that people lived without light or electricity is ineffable; they went to bed when it got dark and used fire or gas for cooking. The only modes of transport in these times were either a donkey or boat.
These were the simple times when people had large families, and wealth was all about owning land. There were no televisions or stereos, which were the primary sources of digital media; this meant no video games. Even though it feels like there was a lack of entertainment, people still managed to play games. Children often engaged themselves in different games and activities at school, in the village, or at parties.
What Games Were Like in the 1800s?
Since living as joint-families was common in the 1800s, people with substantial homes had a separate parlor. The parlor was a particular room used as a play area or for entertaining guests; this was the best room in the house, and whenever guests came to visit, they played different games here. The games were of two types in the 1800s, parlor games and outdoor games. Both types of games involved many people.
A flashback to the 1800s is just what we need in this fast age. This article discusses the most popular games of the 1800s, so sit back and relax as we take you two centuries earlier.
1. Parlor Games
Parlor games are also known as table games, as they required a steady hand. Frequently played parlor games, which were popular from earlier times, included Charades and Blind Man’s Buff. To win these games, you mostly needed luck and cleverness. But most guessing games, word puzzles, and board games were simple and dependent on luck.
Popular parlor games from the 1800s include the following.
Dominoes were invented in the early 1800s, and it instantly became the most favorite pastime of this era. The game gained such immense popularity far in the world and is played to date. Dominoes are available in several types; the similar characteristics are their flat and rectangular shape. The domino blocks are called tiles or bones, and each has two groups of dots on one side; they were made up of wooden barks and white paint.
The dots are from zero to six, and the tiles that have the same number of dots at both ends are called doublets. A game of dominoes was called Draw in the 1800s, and it was played by methods other than stacking. The tiles were put face-down on a table, and each player picked three tiles of their choice. The remaining tiles were left on the table in the boneyard.
The first player had to put down a doublet, and the rest had to match the number on the tiles. The player who lays down all of his dominoes first is the winner.
Tiddlywinks was undoubtedly the most popular game of the late 1800s; everyone must have heard of this, and it was a parlor favorite. The game is played with small plastic disks called winks, and a larger disk called a shooter. The shooter is used to throw the disks into a plastic cup placed in the middle of the table. The player who successfully throws all the disk in the cup wins. During that time, the game was played very seriously, and players often practiced throwing winks in their spare time.
This game was also known as jackstraws and was particularly popular in the North American region. The game used straws of wheat, and all that was required to play it was a heap of wood splinters or straws. People with huge parlors had fancy ivory sticks to play the pickup sticks game, but the modern version uses wooden or plastic sticks.
The sticks were heaped in the middle of the table to play the game, and players took turns to remove them from the pile one at a time—the players who can remove most sticks without moving the pile win.
As this was the time when education was considered supreme, many people focused on producing educational cards for children. The cards in the 1800s helped kids learn about math, geography, history, and science. The idea was to educate children as they play, which is why girls were also involved in playing card games that taught them about cooking.
Board games also included topics from science and literature and drilled players for learning different things. Popular educational board games included Round the World and Geographical or Picture Lotto, which were about culture, maps, and geography. A challenging educational game that adults were attracted to was The World’s Educator.
The board games popular in the 1800s were chess, checkers, and backgammon. But these games are played by older children and adults for hundreds of years. In the 1800s, many new board games were invented, and they were designed to be played by the entire family. Teetotum was one of them.
People always avoided the use of dice in early times because it was associated with gambling. A teetotum was introduced in place of a dice; it was a top with numbers scribbled on it. The top was spun, and when it stopped to lie flat, the number displayed above was used for the game.
Games in earlier times were always produced with the intention that people could learn something from them. The themes of these games were used to improve the mental capabilities of children. Snakes and ladders were one of these games; the ladders were marked with good deeds, and the snakes were marked with bad deeds. These games were termed as morality games and were considered essential to teach children manners.
2. Outdoor Games
Being away from digital media meant that children were encouraged to play outside more. This was refreshing, as most children stepped out of their houses in the evening and played different games and sports such as baseball. Outdoor games played an important role in enhancing the physical abilities of children and helping them interact with other kids.
The popular outdoor games of the 1800s include:
Annie, Annie Over
Annie, Annie Over was a well-known game of the early 1800s; it required two teams, a barrier, and a ball to play. A low wall, log, or table acted as a barrier, and both teams stood on each side. The team that had the ball was called ‘it’; the ball was thrown to the other team by yelling Annie. If the player successfully caught the ball, the teams had to change sides and eliminate players having the ball. The kid being hit had to join the winning team, and the team with the most players in the end won.
Graces was the ultimate game for girls; it was developed to teach them how to walk gracefully, which was why most boys avoided it. The game required two players, and each of them had a stick. The stick was used to toss a hoop to one another. The girl who managed to keep the hoop in the air won.
Games of the 1800s – An Interesting Era
All in all, it might seem like the 1800s was many years ago even to have games, but that is not the case. This decade had many things to keep people entertained and well-informed. Teaching children countless skills and topics was a great initiative and should be continued further as well. Some games of this era are even popular today.