MV Blog



by Kate C
Publish date
2 September 2011
Comments (21)

My friend Jen recently introduced me to a card game called Chook-Chook! through a much-loved set passed down from her great aunt, still played with competitive vigour at family gatherings. Described as "an interesting & amusing parlor game for young and old", it's actually a raucous free-for-all in which you trade chickens and sell their eggs followed by convoluted accounting in shillings and pence.

After a couple of rounds of this splendidly noisy and frantic card game I was hooked and wanted to know more. It seemed there might be a set somewhere in the museum's collections, and sure enough, we have a lovely set.

  Chook-Chook! box Chook-Chook! box. The label shows a farmer running after a squawking chicken. (HT 4667).
Image: Joanne Ely & Sally Jones
Source: Museum Victoria

According to BoardGameGeek, Chook-Chook! was published in 1920. I've now seen three different types of packaging; this early one on Flickr looks to be the oldest and perhaps original style. Jen's set looks a bit more recent than that and her dad remembers playing it with his cousins in the late 1940s and early 1950s. There are advertisments for Chook-Chook! peppered throughout Australian newspapers in the National Library of Australia's Trove newspaper archive but its publisher and country of origin are unclear.

I think it's probably a local game since the word 'chook' seems a very Australian term (although it does have UK origins). I wonder too whether any other country would devise a game where you play at being a poulterer and you squawk chicken breeds.

Chook-Chook! cards The cards of Chook-Chook! The English Game is one of the breeds of chicken that players rear.
Image: Joanne Ely & Sally Jones
Source: Museum Victoria

If you'd like your own game of Chook-Chook! (and I heartily recommend it) the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine holds a scan of the cards once hosted by the former Melbourne City Museum. However it's missing a scan of one crucial card – the one that tells you how much your eggs sell for each month. Here it is from MV's Chook-Chook!:

Monthly egg price card The all-important Chook-Chook! card detailing monthly prices for eggs.
Source: Museum Victoria

Do you know anything about the origins of Chook-Chook!? 


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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.