Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trumps Card Box c.1880

Playing cards is one of the oldest and most popular games invented by man. This tiny box, which dates back to 1880, measures only 3 cm. in length and 2cm. in width and contains suits used in the trick-taking game called Trumps. The small cards are used in determining which card suit will be elevated above its normal rank to become the trump suit. It developed from an older game called Ruff and Honours and is also known by a variety of names like Knock-out Whist, Reduction Whist and Rat. The name of the game derives from the Middle English trumpen, which means to deceive, cheat. Trumps was very popular in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was replaced by Bridge, which shares many traits with Whist.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Handcuffs c.1850s

Handcuffs have been used as a behavioral control device for centuries. These, donated to the museum in 1965, represent the “one size fits all” quality that was typical of cuffs before 1862. The upper bar of the padlock-style handcuffs allows space for the wrists, while the bottom secures the two together. These handcuffs were probably very uncomfortable for people with thick wrists and ineffective for those with thin wrists. The invention of adjustable ratchets by W.V. Adams in 1862 eliminated this problem and led to the creation of one of the most successful American handcuff companies, Tower Handcuffs. Tower handcuffs were based on the Adams patent and were manufactured until World War II. The basic design of the handcuff changed little in the 20th century.