The Name of the Game

By Josefin Jimenez

This week I have been working on half a piece of card, identified only as “Game: Card” in the collection database, with no further information on what kind of game, or how to play it.

'Who Knows?' board game

In his account of the British Antarctica Expedition 1898-1900 Borchgrevink talks about playing chess, cards and draughts to pass the time. He also mentions that the two Sámi members of the expedition, Persen Savio and Ole Must, played Sákhuu, a board game particular to Sámi culture.

  So what kind of game does this particular board come from? After conservation treatment, two pieces of information were revealed: the title of the game, ‘Who Knows?’ and the name of the distributor, J Jaques & Sons.

John Jaques is a London firm, established 1756, which still exists today. They were the makers of such Victorian hits as Snap, Halma, and Ludo, not to mention the classics Tiddlywinks and Happy Families. “Who Knows?” is a lesser known game and could be considered an early version of Trivial Pursuit.

This vintage edition of the game, charmingly describes the rules as follows:

  1. Six Players and 1 Crier
  2. The Crier calls the questions, and the Players in turn must answer correctly; whoever does so gains the Ticket, which is placed on one of the divisions of the Card.
  3. The player who fills his card first wins.
  4. If no one can answer the questions, the Crier must read it aloud so that, when called again, the Players may have a chance at gaining it.

'Who Knows?' rules

A description of the game can be found in the V&A collections catalogue where we can learn more about the categories of the games tickets.

The subject of the cards are as follows:

47 geography
16 grammar
21 spelling
34 mental arithmetic
71 history
63 general knowledge

So far we haven’t seen any trace of either the other game boards or the tickets but as we are approximately half way through the Cape Adare objects I hope that the tickets will soon cross the treatment table.


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