Updated date:

Family History in Objects: Cribbage Board; Bamboo Shaker; 1914 Christmas Box; Victorian Miniature Coin Box


Family history is important to me. I have cherished objects which hold stories, historical events and so many memories.

Inherited History

Objects handed down from grandparents to parents to children often come with stories, with connections to so much history. Have a little peek at my family through some of my possessions; this time, a cribbage board and several other objects.

These objects live together. They always have and they always will, down through the generations.

Cribbage Board

Cribbage, or Crib, is an ancient card game. I’m not an enthusiastic card player but I enjoy this one, for two reasons: one, because my Mum taught me and it reminds me of her; two, this bewitching board is asking to be used. Most card games don’t have boards of any sort, but a cribbage board is an essential way of scoring this game, and this one’s a joy to use.

It is one of the finest I’ve seen and was one of my mother’s treasured possessions. Made of mahogany with a pierced brass surface and brass pegs for scoring, it now graces my sideboard. The wood has a few nicks and some obvious patina, showing that it was loved and used often.

When young, I regarded it as a toy, having no idea how the game itself was played. The shiny brass top and pegs were demanding attention and who was I to refuse? Four pegs, one each for hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, stood on tapered supports, to fit into the holes in the brass surface. Elegant, reflective, cool to the touch, they were irresistible.

Father and Daughter Sharing Time

Mum often referred to her memories playing crib with her father, my sweet Granddad who died when I was five. I have vague memories of him, mostly that he was quiet and gentle, but also that I sat on his knee whilst he smoked his pipe and blew smoke-rings for me! I don’t think anyone was aware of passive smoking in those days (mid 1950s). I do know that he and Mum were close and she missed him terribly. I don’t think she was particularly close to her mother, who was pleasant enough but not forthcoming with affection.

Mum and I played now and then but not so much in her later years. She lost the will to enjoy herself when my Dad died. Now the board is used occasionally and even a look at it recalls happier days with them both.


I have no idea where this bamboo sleeve came from but my mother had it along with the crib board. What better dice-shaker could you have? Bamboo is of course naturally hollow. This one has an inverted domed base and depicts a carved scene of rowers in a boat, with people in an elevated covered area, all surrounded with foliage. In the centre, three people are playing a board game, which leads me to believe this was made for dice. I wish I knew who the carver was or where it came from. To me, it looks Chinese. Maybe you know? I’d love to find out.

Christmas Box

Though not normally associated with a cribbage board, this Christmas box has, for as long as I remember, been the keeper of the playing cards (and other things too, as we’ll see later).

In October 1914, Princess Mary, King George’s 17 year-old daughter, the Princess Royal, launched an appeal to fund sending a Christmas gift in a box to each serving soldier on the Western Front, to boost morale. Over £150,000 were raised, a substantial sum in those days (our crowd-funding is nothing new!). Officers were to receive silver boxes, other soldiers had theirs made of brass. Each one contained a Christmas card and a photograph of Mary, an ounce of tobacco, a packet of cigarettes in a yellow monogrammed wrapper, and a cigarette lighter, as well as some chocolate and maybe sweets of some variety.

On the lid of the box is an image of the Princess, various military decorations, lozenges with ‘Imperium Britannicum’ (top), Christmas 1914 (bottom), and, clockwise from top left, Belgium, Japan, Russia, Montenegro, Serbia and France.

The boxes were to be for ‘every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front’ but this was extended to all ‘wearing the King’s uniform on Christmas day’. 400,000 were delivered by Christmas day, but delivery to all was not completed until 1920! I can’t help but think how many sailors and soldiers died serving their country before their boxes arrived. On the other hand, those who received theirs must have been so happy to have something from home and an obvious recognition of their service.

Victorian Miniature Coin Box and Mini Coins

This miniature coin box has no connection whatsoever with the crib board or the Christmas box other than it too was inside that box when it came into my possession. I was fascinated to find the mini coins of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and four of their nine children.

I have to get hold of a magnifying glass to look at these little coins - they’re barely a centimetre across and the writing is not easy for my old eyes!

These wonderful little pieces of history are said to have been designed by Joseph Moore and produced in 1848/49 and some years after. I presume they were produced for collectors of royal memorabilia.

The coins in my miniature represent these four children:

  • Albert Edward, Prince of Wales 1841-1910 (later Edward VII)
  • Princess Alice 1843-1878
  • Princess Helena 1946-1923
  • Princess Louisa, Duchess of Argyle 1848-1939

Not only did I learn more about Queen Victoria’s children, but also about their own exploits and titles. Albert Edward, their first-born boy, was to become Edward VII, who reigned from 22 Jan 1901 - 6 May 1910, so just over 9 years, a comparatively short reign, especially to that of his mother! Alexandra of Denmark was his wife and George V was his son.

Victoria and Albert's 9 Children

  • Princess Victoria, Princess Royal 1840-1901
  • Albert Edward, Prince of Wales 1841-1910 (Later Edward VII)
  • Princess Alice 1843-1878
  • Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh 1844-1900
  • Princess Helena 1846-1923
  • Princess Louisa, Duchess of Argyle 1848-1939
  • Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught 1850-1942
  • Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany 1853-1884
  • Princess Beatrice 1857-1944

Deck of Cards

Deck of 52 cards (sometimes there are 2 jokers as well)

Deck of 52 cards (sometimes there are 2 jokers as well)

Rules of Cribbage

To return to the Crib board, many of you probably know how to play but here’s a summary of the rules.

Cribbage is played with a fifty two card pack, Aces being low. Each round in the game is scored and the scores are counted on a cribbage board, keeping score by using the pegs (for two players, you have two pegs each which make scoring easier as the back one can jump the front one, so ensuring that you can check that you’ve counted correctly!).

The cards are cut, the player with the lowest card deals six cards each, the other player goes first. Each player must count his hand, and crib (extra points), aloud and announce the total. The first player to get 121 points, to the end of one side of the board and back again, wins. The central holes are used to keep a tally of each player’s games, if you wish.

I found out about an interesting, extra protocol for the game. If one player overlooks any score, the opponent may say "Muggins" and then score the overlooked points for himself. For experienced players, the Muggins rule is always in effect and adds even more suspense to the game.

I’m not going into all the detail here but although it can sound complicated it’s quite easy to play once you get the hang of it. If I can manage, anyone can!


I’m hoping that my children will be happy to inherit these objects as they tell so many stories, not only of family but of background history.




© 2020 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 27, 2020:

Hi Devika! Good to see you. The grandchildren love looking at such things so I hope they are all handed down and the tradition is continued.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 27, 2020:

Thank you, Lora. I'm sorry my reply to you is late; it's this lack of instant comments because I was sidetracked between-times! I hope you do learn to play; you won't regret it.

Yes, it was a lovely gift from Princess Mary and I'm sure it served as the morale booster it was intended to be.

I appreciate your support.


Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 27, 2020:

Hello Ann, great stories and from one generation to the next it must have a good impression to the family. An inheritance tells many stories and so glad to know that such memories are shared with the new generation.

Lora Hollings on December 22, 2020:

Ann, your love of family and history shines in this beautiful article you've written on these objects which you've inherited. I will definitely learn to play cribbage after reading your article. It sounds like it would be both challenging and fun! I also loved the history lesson you wove into your article about the Christmas box. What a wonderful gift for men who had given so much to their Country. Thanks for sharing!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 20, 2020:

Thank you, Greg, for such a lovely comment. I'm so pleased this made such an impression on you. I'm glad to have inspired you to look around at your own pieces. It amazes me how a mere object can bring back so many memories. Maybe we'll hear a bit about some of yours - looking forward to that.

I hope you too have a great holiday and a new year that steers us all back to sanity!

Take care.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 20, 2020:

Thank you, Denise. Fortunately, they do appreciate them and the grandchildren enjoy hearing about family history and asking questions. It all goes into making us the people we are I think.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and I hope you have a good 2021 - we all deserve better now!


Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 20, 2020:

What an amazing inheritance. They are all little pieces of history. Your children should be very honored to receive such legacies.



greg cain from Idaho, USA on December 20, 2020:

Hi Ann - I not only really enjoyed reading all of this, learning about history of your family and your country, but I also became envious as I read more and more. In particular, I am very enamored with the cribbage board, its uniqueness and family history. Your stories remind us that there is so much family history wrapped up in a small object. I looked around the room while I was reading your article and saw things that reminded me of my mom, my dad, my wife, my son, my daughters...this was, for me at least, a moving piece so very well written in the style of yours that always delivers.

Thanks for that, and I sincerely hope you have a wonderful, happy, healthy, jolly holiday season.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 18, 2020:

Thank you, Jo, for stopping by to read and comment; much appreciated.

I hope you have a great Christmas and that 2021 is a much better year for us all!


Jo Miller from Tennessee on December 17, 2020:

Lovely, lovely stories, Ann. Glad you are treasuring these items and the memories they invoke.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

manatita: I cherish them all and they never fail to recall all the memories with fondness.

Coins are collectable in themselves, aren't they? Medals are great to bring back the fun and pride in taking part and winning. But Love is the key isn't it? As long as we leave that behind, then that's what matters above all. Thankfully, the love of my parents shines through when I look at those objects of mine.

Thank you for stopping by; much appreciated.


manatita44 from london on December 16, 2020:

A rich collection of Victorian and other handed down jewels from the family history. Cribbage I know of, but have forgotten it. That 1914 Box looks amazing!

What have I got here? Coins, perhaps, and I'll struggle to find them. I gave my daughter my wedding ring a long time ago, but who knows where it is? That's about it really.

I suppose one can count my numerous medals for running anything from two mile to 100 K. Haha. God's Grace, I will definitely leave Love behind. Merry Christmas!!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Hello Ruby; it is fun and worth having a go. I like your story about the corn pieces for monopoly! Glad you enjoyed this.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Hello Mary. It's not a difficult game so give it a go! I wish I knew more about the shaker but sadly I didn't ask the right questions while my Mum was still alive. I've seen larger bamboo sleeves on the antiques programmes and they are worth a reasonable amount. Yes, I enjoy them immensely and will pass them on.

Thank you very much for reading and commenting; good to see you today.


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 16, 2020:

I have never played cribbage, but it sounds like fun. We play 500 rummy 2-3 times a week. I found the history of your treasures interesting. I wish I'd kept some of my mother's keepsakes. I know she had a monopoly board that they used corn for pieces to move, I can't imagine doing that today, I guess corn was readily available on a farm. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 16, 2020:

We have a cribbage board in the cottage but we haven't played with it. I like your shaker so much. It looks really old. You can bring it to the Antiques Roadshow. I wish I know how to play the game. Enjoy your treasures.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Thank you, bill, for your lovely comments. Glad you both enjoy playing. It whiles away a few hours doesn't it?

The board has stood the test of time well. I never think about handling it with kid gloves and it seems to survived long enough without me worrying about it! The wood is hard and the brass has a few marks from 'life' but that adds to its charm I think.

Yes, the coins are amazing - if you have one with all nine 'children' in it, then it's worth a bit I think. However, I'm happy with my four and wouldn't part with a perfect one anyway! They are priceless!

A wonderful Wednesday to you two too, bill!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy. Yes it is fun. It requires a little more strategy than most and the board just makes it enjoyable too!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Thanks John! I thought I could and went there yesterday but for some reason couldn't get to it! Anyway, it works now!

I appreciate your help!


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 16, 2020:

Bev and I love cribbage. She loves winning and I love watching her win, at my expense. That cribbage board of yours is exquisite. I would be afraid to play on it for fear I would damage it in some way.

Love the miniature coins. Love this whole darned article. Thanks for sharing some of your wonderful memories with us, my friend, and Happy Wednesday to you.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 16, 2020:

What fascinating objects you have from your family. Thanks for sharing them with us. I have never played cribbage, but it sounds like fun.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 16, 2020:

You should be able to click on "Author's View" on your Accounts page and comment there.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Linda: Thank you for your visit and comment. Yes, the memories of our departed loved ones and of the times that we shared are priceless and they are embodied with the objects themselves.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Chitrangada: I appreciate your kind words. It certainly does create nostalgia when we have such things to look at. I'm glad you have some too, with all those memories to accompany them!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Thank you, Sankhajit, for reading and commenting. Glad you found it interesting.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Hi, John. Your items sound great too. We see antique programmes where some people are selling the family's history - I can't understand that, no matter how much they're worth (unless they really need the money of course). Thanks for your encouragement. I was looking at various objects one day and I thought of this series - it seems to work!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

Thank you, Linda. Sorry to take so long but my notifications haven't been coming through for some reason. No, I'm not keen on card games either but this one's an exception for me. Yes, the craftsmanship is quite something, isn't it! Glad you popped by; great to hear from you.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 16, 2020:

This is crazy when we can't even access our own hubs via our own Articles list, to reply to comments! It's driving me mad and taking up at least 5 times the usual.

Thank you Pamela, for your kind comment. It is the objects that jump-start the memories and that's what I love, along with the beauty of the objects themselves.


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 15, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your possessions and your memories, Ann. I think the objects that they leave us are a lovely to remember our relatives

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 15, 2020:

Interesting article, with wonderful display of items, passed on to you from your elders. Gives a nostalgic feeling, with which I can relate to. I am also fortunate to own something like this. Most wonderful are the memories associated with them.

Thank you for sharing this.

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on December 15, 2020:

interesting to read your message...

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 15, 2020:

Thank you for sharing these treasured possessions, Ann. I also have a few items passed down from my grandparents and parents, that I would never part with, among them a pair of kookaburra salt and pepper shakers, various green glassware, and two pewter brooches made in Siam.

It is the memories associated with these items that brings joy and a sense of melancholy.

That is the most elaborate cribbage board I have even seen. We have two but they are just wooden with little embellishment. One has some carving.

This is a great idea for a series of articles. Best wishes.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 15, 2020:

Ann, I'm not much of a card player, but I can certainly understand your love of these items from your family. What treasures! And if nothing else, one has to appreciate the craftsmanship. Anything made today would not be nearly as beautiful and well-made.

Thank you for sharing these remembrances of your childhood. What lovely memories.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 15, 2020:

Inheriting these antiques is wonderful, Ann. I really enjoyed this article. I love antiques and have inherited some from my mother.

I played cribbage when I was young, but I didn't remember much about the game. Your description brought back memories. Thank you, Ann.

Related Articles