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July 31, 2017, 05:18 PM

Devil among the tailors, bar skittles or ninepins

By Thornton Kay

Devil amongst the tailors at Olliffs [photo Salvo

 
Devol amongst the tailors in Minchinhampton [photo SalvoWEB
 
The modern playmate, a book of games, sports and diversions [google books
  

Bristol, UK - Occasionally salvage dealers acquire old pub games such as bar skittles. These seem to have been a favourite in Victorian times or even earlier, possibly as a parlour game. But the strange thing is the name that was given to mini skittles in England - 'Devil Amongst The Tailors'.

Diabolo is a horizontal spinning top which came from China c 1790 and is named for two joined bells forming a yo-yo. In the English expression 'nine tailors maketh a man', tailors is believed to be a corruption of tellers - the traditional name given to a tolling bell at a funeral. The teller was tolled three times for a man, twice for a woman and once for a child - and this was repeated three times - hence 'nine tellers maketh a man'.

So it seems that ninepins was named devil amongst the tailors as a combination of Chinese spinning tops and an English method of counting.

Salvo has listed two of these devil amongst the tailors games - both quite old and both in the West Country.

Marcus Olliff of Olliffs Architectural in Bristol has a Victorian wooden cannonade for sale at 140 which is divided into compartments where the skittles or tailors are knocked down with a spinning top or devil which bounces around and gets caught and ejected from gates in the corners.

The Ragged Cot in Minchinhampton asked Masco (now Vintage & Architectural) to sell its devil amongst the tailors aka a bar skittles or ninepins knocked down by a ball attached to a post by a length of string or chain and an ad was duly placed on SalvoWEB - and is still on the website.

Vintage & Architectural

Olliff's Architectural Antiques

SalvoWEB: Vintage bar skittles game [photo SalvoWEB

Story Type:  Feature

ID: 101355

Date Modified: August 01, 2017, 09:50 PM

        
 
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