Antique and Vintage Cribbage Sets

To understand the card game cribbage, one needs to understand its creator, 17th century Englishman John Suckling, who was widely considered an unabashed rake. Rich, handsome, and a talented writer, Suckling was notorious for his quick wit, his womanizing ways, and his expertise at gambling in card and dice games. While he was well-liked and known to be generous with his money, most shopkeepers knew he couldn’t be trusted.

Suckling was knighted in 1630, the same year he created cribbage. Legend has it that he gave away a significant number of marked card decks to aristocrats around the England. It is believed he amassed a fortune fleecing said noblemen, by traveling the countryside and offering to play them cribbage for money. He finally fell into disgrace in 1641 when he was accused of conspiring to free his friend, the Earl of Stafford, who was jailed in the Tower of London. After he fled to Paris, Suckling is thought to have poisoned himself at the young age of 33.

Charles Dickens’ solidified cribbage’s immortality in “The Old Curiosity Shop,” the story of an eccentric shop worker named Richard Swiveller who teaches a young slave girl he dubs “The Marchioness” how to play the game.

Cribbage is actually a simple variation on a Tudor-era game known as Noddy. The earliest version of cribbage dealt five cards to each player, whereas Noddy was played with three cards a piece. Five-card cribbage requires each player to discard one card face-down into the “crib,” which belongs to the dealer. These days, cribbage is often played with six cards as well, with two discarded face-down into the crib. Cribbage scoring is based on the order in which the players lay down their remaining cards face up, and each player receives points for sequences totalling 15 or 31 points, as well as runs and pairs.

The most uniquely collectible aspect of cribbage is its scoring board, usually a piece of wood with series of holes called “streets” that hold scoring pegs called “spilikins.” This score-keeping system likely predates the game, as similar objects have been found in Egyptian tombs. Each player has two spilikins that leapfrog over each other, which helps keep track of the previous score. If an opponent fails to peg their points, a player can call out “muggins” and score those unclaimed points.

The winner of a cribbage game is the player who gets to 121 points first. An early cribbage board-design featured an equilateral triangle with two row of forty holes on each side. The classic cribbage board design is usually just a piece of wood about a foot long and 4 inches wide with two sets of 60 holes divided into five-point sections. “Pegging-out” holes at the end of the board are used to indicate when a player has reached 60 points and is counting points in the opposite direction.

Some antique cribbage boards feature a third track of holes where each player has another peg to keep track of how many games he’s won. Newer, vividly colored board designs in pl...

While wood is the most popular material, some antique cribbage boards were made of ivory, bone, or animal horns, like the scrimshaw cribbage boards made from carved whalebone or walrus tusks. The spilikins, too, may be made of wood, ivory, bone, plastic, or metal—some are even carved into shapes like horse heads.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Museum of Talking Boards

Museum of Talking Boards

Prepare to enter the strange world of Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board game, which captured imaginations en masse… [read review or visit site]

Elliot Avedon Games Museum

Elliot Avedon Games Museum

This in-depth University of Waterloo virtual exhibit showcases vintage games in a variety of categories, from class… [read review or visit site]

Electronic Plastic

Electronic Plastic

From Tomy to Coleco to Mattel and Nintendo, check out this collection of over 660 handheld and tabletop videogames … [read review or visit site]

Pong Story

Pong Story

David Winter's tribute to early video games, and to Ralph H. Baer, 'inventor of the video game.' Offers a detailed … [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Unusual Antique Wooden / Treen Marquetry Cribbage Board & Marker C Early 1900sA Victorian Faux Tortoise Shell Cribbage Games Box C1860/80Vintage Wood Oval Hodges & Sons Kalamazoo Mi Cribbage Board Game Toy Pat PendingVery Nice Wooden Triangle Cribbage Board With Bone InlayVintage Noble Games Rare Cribbage Board Game Cards, 6 PegsFolk Art Inlaid Star Cribbage Board Box, 1800's, With Pegs And DiceVintage U.s. Navy Usn U.s.s. Greenfish Submarine Cribbage Board GameGrab Bag Of Four Handmade Metal Cribbage BoardsCribbage Board Solid Brass Heart ShapeAntique Triangle Wooden Cribbage Board With Bone Inlays No. 050 Drueke Cribbage Regulation BoardVintage Cribbage Board Inuit Antler Handmade Artist Signed Vintage Wm. F. Drueke Once A Round 3 Track Cribbage Board Wooden Model 1977Victor Australian Bakelite Cribbage Board"how To Play Cribbage Well" By Frank L. Brown, 1985Folk Art Wooden Banjo Cribbage BoardDisney Cribbage Mickey Classic Games New!!!L. L. Bean Travel Cribbage Set, Wooden BoardVintage Collectible Cribbage Board Game Carved Scrimshaw Whale Pms Artek Old Inlaid Wood Cribbage Board Box. Nice Patina!Ww1 Ww2 Trench Art Soldiers Cribbage Board And Darts (pow)Cribbage GameVintage Handmade Cribbage Board Rampant Colt Horse Wood Inlay Round Race TrackVintage Antique Tramp Folk Art Veneered Cribbage Board Box Slotted Dove Tail TopVintage 19" Wood Cribbage BoardsHorn Brand Vintage Wooden Cribbage Baord In Original Box With InstructionsVintage Cribbage Board Key-chain Vancouver Bc Canada 1960's Black Leather CoverCanadian Bowling Pin Cribbage Board Card GameNice Black Diamond Stenciled Wooden Cribbage BoardNice Simonds Canada Saw Company Wooden Advertising Cribbage Board By AcmeMarquetry Inlaid Wood Triangle Cribbage BoardMirror In Tree Slab Cribbage Board, Hand-crafted For Bette Bemis By Pat KartesPatriotic Hand-crafted Lucite Cribbage Board Cribbage Solid Wood Folding Board With Cards - Game Gallery Hand Made Cribbage Board Old & FolkyDrueke Cribbage Board No 114Imperial Cribbage Board Including 6 PegsRare Wooden Cribbage Board Advertising "showman" Tobacco, English Metro Games Game Set, Cribbage, Checkers/backgammon, Dice, Poker, 1940'sVintage Round Wood Cribbage Board Cornucopia Wi Wisconsin Bear StickerVintage 1950's Baron Continuous Track Cribbage Board For 2 And 4 Players MibMiami Dolphins Nfl Licensed Football Cribbage Board18 Cribbage Pegs (3 Colors)Petite Cribbage Set Is A Little Gamey! 3.5" Long When Folded, Wood, CompleteStandard Cribbage Board - Are-jay Game Co.