Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jackstraws and Geegaws

Jackstraws is a game with the same rules as the ancient game of pickup sticks or spillikins. This North American variant replaces the plain sticks with carved pieces, which tend to catch on each other. Traditionally the pieces are carved to represent everyday household items or farm implements. Now an art form, the pieces usually represent items of domestic commerce from an earlier era.

The set above was carved for me by my friend Bill Henry. Bill told me he now has enough patterns to produce 20 complete sets, all different.

I bought this set from Bill, who had bought it at an auction many years ago. He has no idea who carved them, but they do contain some interesting pieces. Note the round broom at the bottom, next to the fish. There's a book, a scythe, a homemade rake, a churn, a piggin, a maul, and other items of domestic commerce. I think I may have to buy a book on early American tools, home, and farm implements!


  1. They are exquisite - such detail. I'm not aware we have anything similar here. What a lovely thing to collect.

  2. I love all those little wooden pieces. I remember seeing so many men on the porch whittlin' or carving when I was a kid. Don't see that very often these days.

  3. Oh, these are WONDERFUL! What does your friend charge per set?