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Walsingham Mill
The Old Mill
Cokers Hill
Little Walsingham
Norfolk
NR22 6BN
England

Purveyors of quality original antique 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Century oak and country furniture, fine art and decorative period items

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02/12/18 - OPENING HOURS FOR THE MILL FOR WEEK COMMENCING 9/12/18

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Rare Set of 18th Century English Antique Nine Pin Tavern Skittles or Pub Skittles

Information

Exceptionally rare survivors from a bygone age.  Once a common sight in old English taverns but now sadly lost in time.

Most probably originating from the West Country, this set of nine 18thC tavern skittles, including the original kingpin, has been turned from an oak tree.

Each skittle stands approx 12" high (the kingpin stands approx 15 1/2" high with its circular final).

Complete with two original bowls (the third is missing).

The Game of West Country Skittles

Description

The nine wooden skittles are typically ten-to-twelve inches high and shaped like a stunted cigar, with the diameter in the middle being typically 4.5 inches and the diameter at the ends about 3 inches.  Balls are traditionally made from heavy wood (nowadays rubber or resin) and any size greater than a tennis ball and less than a cannonball can be used (five inches diameter should be about right).  A full-size Skittles alley is usually around six feet wide and normally made of wood although other surfaces can be used.   The distance from the throwing line to the front skittle is not usually less than 24 feet but in some areas can be significantly more than 30 feet.   Sometimes one of the pins, known as a kingpin, is slightly larger than the others - its position would normally be in the middle or at the front.

Play

The nine skittles are arranged in a square at the end of an alley so that the sides of the square are diagonal to the edges of the alley.  A typical square size would be 28 inches from the middle of the front skittle to the middle of the rear skittle.  Each turn starts with all the skittles standing and consists of three throws down the alley.  The ball must be rolled the length of the alley and not thrown.  If the first or second throw is a "sticker" wherein no skittles are left standing, they are all reset.  So the maximum score in one turn is twenty-seven.

In areas where a kingpin is used, the rules vary but the general tendency is not to score a throw until the kingpin is toppled.  So it would be theoretically possible to knock down the other 8 skittles with three balls and score no points.

Normally the game is played by two teams who play a series of legs.  In a leg, each player is allowed one turn of three balls.  The total number of points scored by each member of the team are added up and the team with the highest score wins the leg.   In some areas, the team who manages to win five legs first wins the match. 

There are no standard rules for singles.  Masters Games suggests that singles are scored in the same way but the first player to win eleven legs wins the game.   Alternatively, two players could play first to one hundred and one.

Condition - some age-related splits to the skittles commensurate with age and a part-loss to the finial of the kingpin.  One skittle is a later-turned replacement but does show a good degree of age in its own right.  The set could still be used.

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