Friday, May 22, 2015

The Bull's Foot

I came across this game and while I've played something similar when I was a kid, or even with my children, I never knew the game to be called "The Bull's Foot". Below are two variations of the same game. Enjoy!

EVERYBODY knows this game, of which the idea consists in piling up hands, one above another, and then withdrawing successively each one as it becomes the under one, to place it on the top of the pile, saying, meantime, a number from one to nine. When the turn of nine comes, the pile is taken down, and the hands are hidden. It is then the turn of him who has said nine, to skilfully seize a hand, saying, "I hold my Bull's Foot." If he does not catch any, he owes a forfeit. If he succeeds in catching a hand, he says to the person to whom it belongs, "Of three things you must do one." A polite player will reply, "Yes, if I can." Others will add, "If I choose," "If it please me." Then the conqueror orders three things, of which one at least should be feasible. The order is executed, and the game begins again.
(Look for the choice of the forfeits at the end of the games.)
Source: The Book of Parlor Games ©1853

The ancient way of playing at this was very childish. The first player laid one hand upon the table, and her companions imitated her, laying their hands on hers, until a pile of nine were formed. The player whose hand was undermost, then withdrew it, and placed it on the top of the pile, saying, “one.” The next one did the same, counting “two,” and so on until it came to the turn of the ninth player, who attempted to seize one of the hastily-withdrawn hands, exclaiming, when she succeeded in accomplishing her object, “Nine ! The Bull's Foot is mine !” Now, the following addition has been made. The captor of the Bull's Foot wishes to dispose of it, so taking a key or any other small article, to represent it, she goes round the company, saying, “How much will you give me for my Bull's Foot?” Each person addressed has to instantly reply by stating a price, taking care, as she does so, to avoid any number capable of being divided by nine, thus, eighteen, thirty-six, forty-five, &c., are prohibited, as well as the number nine itself joined to another number, such as nineteen, twenty-nine, &c. The first person making a mistake, pays a forfeit, and becomes vendor of the Bull's Foot.
Source: Every Girls Book ©1860

1 comment:

  1. I played something like that with friends when I was a kid, but we only counted. We didn't say anythings about a bull's foot. It's interesting how games linger with variations through whole centuries.