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Basics of Cribbage Board Collecting

Let me introduce you to the world of cribbage board collecting, or in fun, CBC 101. I'm Bette Bemis, the founder of the Cribbage Board Collectors Society (CBCS), and I will be showing you through the art of collecting boards.

The first thing that you should know about collecting is what is considered a collection. This question gets asked frequently, and it seems that many folks are afraid that their little collection really isn't a collection at all! Someone once told me that if you have more of an item than you actually need, then it constitutes a collection. In other words, if you need only one board in order to play cribbage and you own two, then you are in possession of a collection!

Another misconception that I should clear up immediately is that of board values. Your collection need not be made up entirely of expensive boards for it to be "acceptable" in the eyes of other people. In other words, if your collection consists of boards mostly purchased at yard sales, look as though they have been beaten with a hammer and are full of cigarette burns, then join the crowd. My collection houses quite a few boards that fit into that category, but some of them have held important bits of information which have enabled me to solve big puzzles. Because of that, I treasure those boards, and wouldn't trade them for anything.

The second piece of information that you should have is the fact that support and information are available to you as you work to establish your collection. I own a small mail order business for cribbage novelties, and letters used to come in frequently requesting information about old boards that the writers owned. These people assumed that I was somewhat of an expert on the subject, but they were wrong - I didn't have a clue as to the origin or the manufacturers of old boards! It took awhile, but my interest was challenged and eventually I began collecting old boards. To make a long story short, I founded the CBCS in 1991 with approximately 25 members on board, and we have been collecting boards together ever since.

The objectives of the CBCS are as follows:

  1. Generate information about cribbage boards
  2. Establish values of cribbage boards
  3. Further the hobby of collecting cribbage boards
  4. Establish a network of cribbage board collectors.

Six years later, the organization has a rich collection of ephemera in the archives about old cribbage board manufacturers, hundreds of photos, lists of magazine articles and books which have reference to cribbage boards, copies of patents, and much more. In fact, there is so much material being uncovered that I am hard-pressed to maintain any semblance of order with it!

With the cooperation of the members of the CBCS, reports have been written about old manufacturers such as W. C. Horn, Bros. And Co., the H. Baron, Co., the W. C. Le Count Co., the Pacific Game Co., and several others. Perhaps your collection houses boards which were manufactured by some of these companies. Members have access to these reports, and their content enables a collector to focus on the features of their boards , sometimes facilitating the process of identifying one that is otherwise unmarked. When the CBCS was first organized, at least half of the manufactured boards in our collections were unidentified. At the present time, there remain only a few that have escaped our relentless search, and we are closing in fast on their origins as well!

In the new few articles, I will guide you through the art of collecting cribbage boards, and hopefully, help you to improve your skills with the identification process.