Article Library - Article #2

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In the last article, I reviewed the basics of cribbage board collecting - what constitutes a collection as well as a source for information on cribbage boards that can be utilized. When you start to collect, it always sparks your interest to know as much about your boards that you can. Having a collection of boards on the shelves about which you know little can be a rather dull situation.

Another point of interest about your collection is to know the values of your boards. If all the boards housed in your collection are listed at under $5.00, you will soon wonder why you have been collecting them! The ego is almost always fired up when you realize that the board you bought at a yard sale for $2.00 has a value of $25.00. When you discover that fact, you are eager to return to the scene of the action and collect even more boards. So, when a cribbage board reference book with values eventually reaches the market, and one will before long, don't be disturbed by the values that are quoted in it. It has been my experience that most dealers will review values and then price realistically. The published values are there only to provide guidelines, and they are not etched in stone. Listed values are based on several factors such as the condition of the board, whether or not the box is still intact, presence of instruction sheets, and whether or not the original pegs are included.

It is time to do a review of one of my favorite cribbage board manufacturers. Over the years, I have received many letters regarding boards manufactured by the following company, each person who writes believing that their board is rare. I have found, however, that many of them still exist, and they are fun boards to own due to the fact that they don't need pegs! A variety of pegless boards have been manufactured over the past 150 years or so, including the "Hedgehog" style (boards with a non-removable peg in each hole). The "Hedgehogs" will be reviewed at a later date, so stay tuned.

The Curtis Cribbage Counter

On May 1, 1951, a Game Scoring Device was patented by Wilfred A. Curtis of North Woodstock, New Hampshire. The Patent number for this game scoring device, better known as the Curtis Cribbage Counter, is No. 2,550,675. Although the board was used primarily for scoring in cribbage, it could also have been used to keep score for other games such as Bezique, Whist, and Dominoes.

The board was manufactured in molded plastic with a slot along either side of a numbered game scoring register. The board consists of two of these sets, one set for each player. A movable plastic dial, which cannot be removed from the board, slides along the slot, registering the count for the game being played. One might wonder why each player had two slots and dials. Quite simply put, the player started out by moving the outside dial with her first count. When scoring the second time, the first dial remained intact and the inside dial was moved from the point of the outside dial's score, onward. For the third move, the player returned to the outside dial, continued where the inside dial had left off, and so on. This system allowed for a review of the last count, but in reality, was probably a rather cumbersome system. That assumption may account for why so many of the boards that have been located are in such good condition!

Prior to the Patent being granted, the plastic board was manufactured in a style with 120 numbered markers on each game register. As far as can be determined, the board came in three colors - ivory with black dials and print, black with ivory dials and print, and black with red dials and white print. These original boards had a rotating marker located at each end of the center for keeping count of Games Won. The markers allowed for the registering of a total of 5 Games Won for each player. The name of the company was contained within a diamond shape located on the center of the board. Although all of the boxes which have been located have the North Woodstock, New Hampshire address printed on them, the original boards are marked "Leominster, Massachusetts" within the diamond. "Pat. Pend." is stamped outside the diamond.

After the Patent was received, Mr. Curtis began manufacturing the board with 60 numbered markers on each game register rather than the original 120. Just why he reverted to the old game count, isn't clearly understood, for game play to 121 points had become fairly common by the early 1950's and the newer board would require twice around play to achieve that score. The newer boards have been found in two colors - ivory with dark green dials and print, and black with ivory dials and print. The newer boards had both Games Won rotating markers located at one end, while the other end had rotating markers showing whether the players were on the first leg or the second leg. The board also contained the name of the company in the center diamond, but "No. Woodstock, New Hampshire" replaces the "Leominster, Massachusetts" address.

The instruction sheet which accompanied these pegless cribbage boards listed the following factors among the positive assets:

No Pegs - No Holes
Nothing to Wear Out
Simplifies Keeping Score
Eliminates Error
Sliding Dials for Easy Scoring

The board sold for $2.95 when it was manufactured. At today's market, a board in good condition with its box and instructions, is worth $30 to $35.

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