(Pause to re-read the hilarious ending of The Grand Sophy. Ahem.)
No, Lydia was not crowing over winning anchovies. Nor was Amabel handing out minnows, but these handsome little guys. The game was called “lottery tickets,” and was a game of pure chance; utilizing two decks of cards, it was played in rounds, and fish-shaped markers were used for placing bets (sort of), with the winner of each round getting the fish.
Aren’t they lovely? These are of mother-of-pearl (which is darned difficult to photograph well, I’ll have you know!), likely made in China, but they were also made of bone and ivory. Nor were they restricted to just fish shapes (I haven’t been able to discover ‘why fish?’) Here are several circular ones from my collection—again, Chinese mother-of-pearl, some very elegantly engraved. The wealthy would have theirs custom-carved with their coats of arms or other heraldic devices.
I wonder if there's any way to incorporate my fishy collection into our upcoming Cards Against Humanity game on Christmas? Hmm...
While I ponder that question, I hope all NineteenTeen readers will enjoy a splendid upcoming holiday week full of your own happy family traditions, whether they involve fish or not.