Games of 21 Combinations

This is a group of games of chance employing the basic principle of put & take games: Each player interacts with a central pot/pool/bank of tokens, coins etc., putting stakes into it or taking something out, according to the result of a randomizer.

Games of 21 Combinations are close relatives of the Game of the Owl (Pela il Chiu). Put simply, the latter is built around the 56 combinations that are possible with three six-sided dice, whereas the former uses only two dice. Owl games form a recognizable tradition among European printed games. Games of 21 Combinations on the other hand show a greater variation in names, shapes and game rules.

For detailed discussion of this group of games, see:

  • Adrian Seville & Jonas Richter: Jeux à Vingt-et-une Combinaisons. In: Le Vieux Papier, fasc. 444 (Avril 2022), pp. 49-57 and plates I and II (after p. 72).
  • Jonas Richter: Games of 21 Combinations. [Conference presentation] Board Game Studies Colloquium, 16th – 20th May 2022. Presentation text and slides

The list below mostly points to various sources with digitizations and further information on printers, dating etc. The sources linked or named are not referenced exhaustively. For instance, the Buijnsters’ catalogue1 is only listed in a few cases because it is referenced in detail on the object pages of the Rijksmuseum.

If you know games of 21 combinations not listed below, regardless of language/ country of origin, please let me know!

Dutch Games of 21 Combinations

Italian Games of 21 Combinations

  • Giuoco delle Frutta, Milan: Marca Mondo/Marca Stella/Marca Aquila, Giochidelloca #0275
  • Novo et Piacevol Gioco del Giardin d’Amore [The new and enjoyable game of the garden of love], by Giovanni Antonio de Paoli. Rome: 1589-1599.2 British Museum 1869,0410.2467.+, Giochidelloca #1105. Different print by Angelo Salvadori, Venice, 17th century: Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK) KI 6952-1, Giochidelloca #2526

…by Giuseppe Maria Mitelli (1634–1718)

  • Il Gioco del Aquila [Game of the Eagle] Giochidelloca #0746
  • Gioco della Fortuna e di Disgratia [Game of Fortune and Misfortune],3 Giochidelloca #0768
  • Gioco Novo del Turco del Todesco e del Venetiano [New game of the Turk, the German and the Venetian], Giochidelloca #0739
  • Gioco Novo di tutte le Forme de Nasi [New game of all shapes of nose], Giochidelloca #0741

German Games of 21 Combinations

  • old wooden board, Bavarian National Museum R 94, Himmelheber4 p. 146 (cat. no. 351), also discussed in Richter 20195
  • Das Adlerschießen (in Walter Blachetta: Das große Spielmagazin, Berlin [1942], pp. 70-73, the playing pieces/tiles on card boards no. 10 and 11)
  • Der deutsche Hanswurst, Nürnberg, Johann Wunder, Friedrich Campe, ca. 1830, Himmelheber op. cit., p. 151 (cat. no. 359). Reprints at Museon inv. 235248 and Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg, inv. 1979.1811
  • Daß Glück- und Unglüks-Spihl – adaption of Mitelli’s Gioco della Fortuna e di Disgratia6
  • Die Jahreszeiten [Nürnberg: Christian Trummer ca. 1820] – 24 fields (three combinations show up twice, but each with different instructions!) Himmelheber. op. cit., p. 150 (cat. no. 357)
  • Lustiges Braut und Bräutigams oder Verheÿrathungs Spiel [Cheerful bride and groom or marriage game] Johann Raab, Nürnberg. British Museum 1893, 1015. 6, Reprint Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg 1979.1812
  • Neustes Musikspiel [Newest Music Game], Stuttgart, C H Burk; Giochidelloca #2393. Another version titled Die Virtuosen, Nürnberg, Napoleon Campe, ca. 1845, cf. Himmelheber. op. cit., p. 153 (cat. no. 363)
  • Planeten Spiel, Augsburg, Albr. Schmidt, ca. 1730. Himmelheber. op. cit., p. 148 (cat. no. 353)
  • Stationen Spiel auf der Reise dieses Lebens in Bildern [Game of the Stations of Life in pictures], Trautner, Nürnberg. Giochidelloca #2410
  • Stern-Spiel7
  • Turnier oder Ritter Spiel, Paterno (Vienna)8, Reprint Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg 1979.1814
  • Turnier Spiel, Robrahn (Magdeburg)9

French Game(s)

  • Jeu de l’État-major Français, Giochidelloca #0118

Several chromolithographs that supposedly are from the late 19th century France also show the 21 combinations, but provide no hints as to how a game might have been played with them – link1, link2

Not a game of 21 combinations

The combination of two die faces is how domino pieces are structured. Printed sheets of dominoes can include images and therefore seem very similar to a dice game, even though they are intended to be cut into pieces and used as dominoes. An example is Die lustige Bauernhochzeit. Ein interessantes Domino-Spiel.10 Link to image

The Wikidata object for this blog post is Q112052226.

  1. Piet J. Buijnsters and Leontine Buijnsters-Smets: Papertoys. Speelprenten en papieren speelgoed in Nederland (1640–1920). Zwolle: Waanders, 2005. []
  2. Kelli Wood: “Print, Play, and Gambling Games at the End of the Sixteenth Century”. In: Art History 42 (2019), pp 450-481. PDF via academia.edu, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.12452 []
  3. compare the German adaption Glück- und Unglüks-Spihl []
  4. Georg Himmelheber: Spiele. Gesellschaftsspiele aus einem Jahrtausend. München: Deutscher Kunstverlag 1972 [Kataloge des Bayerischen Nationalmuseums München 14] []
  5. Jonas Richter: The Game of Seven: Glückshaus and Related Dice Games. In: Board Game Studies Journal, vol.13 (2019), pp. 67-97, here 74-75. https://doi.org/10.2478/bgs-2019-0004 []
  6. Regina Kaltenbrunner: ‘Daß Glück- und Unglüks-Spihl’, in Homo Ludens 3 (1993), pp. 143-154. []
  7. Reproduced in: Heiner Vogel: Bilderbogen und Würfelspiele. Leipzig: Ed. Leipzig, 1981, p. 163. The rules are partly illegible. []
  8. Reproduced in: Heiner Vogel: Bilderbogen und Würfelspiele. Leipzig: Ed. Leipzig, 1981, p. 164. []
  9. Reproduced in: Heiner Vogel: Bilderbogen und Würfelspiele. Leipzig: Ed. Leipzig, 1981, p. 165. []
  10. Reproduced in: Heiner Vogel: Bilderbogen und Würfelspiele. Leipzig: Ed. Leipzig, 1981, p. 179. []

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