Here at AC Silver we have recently had the good fortune to add an unusual piece of silverware to our collection of rare antiquities; a silver Trump Marker Dice!
At first glance, all of us were fascinated with the piece. Clearly, with all of the suits of a deck of cards displayed on the faces of the dice, this was a piece which was intended for accompanying a card game.
Card games were the main source of entertainment in households and at parties during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and this means that not only were they played much more frequently than they are today, they also possessed far more significance as a social event.
The accessories which were used in these games became luxury objects in themselves and for those who could afford them the games markers were made of more expensive materials like mother of pearl and silver. From scoring pads and rule books, to card shufflers and trump indicators, these accoutrements were a gauge of sophistication and wealth.
Because items like this are so rarely used now, they have become highly collectable and are sought after as novelty pieces.
The History of Trump Indicators…
Trump markers fortunately have no connection to the upcomoming President of The United States, but rather are whimsical pieces of a game which was popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, Whist.
Whist was a game which is similar to the modern version of Bridge; however in Whist the last card dealt determined the trump suit. This was made clear to players via the dealer turning over his final card, face-up, before then adding the card to his hand. The issue was, with this sequence, that players then easily forgot the trump suit.
Over time, approximately at the end of the 19th century, Whist players took it upon themselves to create playing card trump indicators. A trump indicator being a device placed on the card table, indicating the current trump suit for the benefit of players.
The side of the dice which reads ‘No Trumps’ indicates that the hand is played without a trump suit.
The Different Designs & Styles…
The earliest trump indicators and trump markers were created with wood and porcelain, and later, as technology advanced, Bakelite and plastic materials became more commonly used to create these games accessories, making them more durable. It is unusual to find trump dice which incorporate silverware as our fine example does.
Furthermore, the trump marker which we are able to offer our customers is especially large, suggesting that it is a piece which was created to be displayed and admired, as much as to be used within a card game.
The style of trump markers has little variation, as they follow a fairly simple form and the text or symbols on the die are always the same. However, the greatest variation between the die is usually the style of text which is used, and this is often the best way to age the die to a particular time; such as the Victorian or Art Deco era.
With our example -owing to the benefit of the piece being made with silver -we are able to read the hallmarks which tell us the date which it was created, as well as the maker and its origin.
We have truly fallen for the charm and novelty of this wonderful piece here at AC Silver, and we think that it would make a wonderful gift for any fan of traditional games, especially those who love a game of cards!
Jodie Smith – Copywriter
Jodie joined AC Silver in 2016 as a copywriter after completing a degree in English Literature, possessing a passion for jewellery and unusual antiquities combined with an interest in blogging.