Knucklebones - Sheep, pre 1954 Object Reg. No: SH 990052

Alternative Name(s): Jacks

A gift to Dorothy Howard from Miss Kelly, Melbourne, 1954. She dug them up in her garden (buried there by her dog).

Knucklebones, or Jacks, is an ancient game, dating back to prehistoric times. The first jacks were natural materials - animal bones, stones, seeds and shells. Sheep's knucklebones were the most common type of jacks in Australia during the first half of this century, and children would colour them by boiling them in water with ink or dye. During the 1950s, mass-produced plastic knucklebones became available.

These knucklebones are representative of the playing pieces used in ancient times, and by Roman soldiers as a gambling device. Sheep's knucklebones are used to play Jacks in many countries, and in Australia before World War II, they were the most common type of jacks available.

This object forms part of the Dorothy Howard Collection, contained within the Australian Children's Folklore Collection (ACFC). The ACFC is unique in Australia, documenting contemporary children's folklore across Australia and in other countries reaching back to the 1870s. The Collection has a strong component of research material relating to Victoria.
Five sheep knucklebones in a square cardboard box with lid. Four of the bones are of similar size, one is smaller and very weathered. The box has a white base, the lid is white with grey and red stripes around the sides and printed in grey on the top. There are two round green stickers - one inside the box and one on the side of the lid.
Acquisition Information:
Cultural Gifts Donation from Dr June Factor, 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 3.00 cm (Height), 8.00 cm (Width), 8.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: children s folklore, children s play, farm animals, food technology, games, livestock, sheep, making history - australian childrens folklore
Themes this item is part of: Australian Children's Folklore Collection, Childhood & Youth Collection, Domestic & Community Life Collection, Leisure Collection, Sustainable Futures Collection, Dr Dorothy Gray Mills Howard (1902-1996)
Primary Classification: GAMES & TOYS
Secondary Classification: Action Games
Tertiary Classification: hand
Inscriptions: On lid: Knucklebones, 24
Other Association (See Comments): Dr Dorothy Howard, Victoria, Australia, pre 1954

Given to Dr Howard, who in turn gave them to June Factor, the donor.
References: See Supp File 99.01.

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