Thursday, June 19, 2014

Evolution of the Game from Gillet, Brelan Bouillotte to Poker

Personally I know very little about gambling or card games.  My only experience of the excitement that accompanies this "playtime" has been acquired by  visiting the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida.  As you go through the gates of Win or Lose, there is a hum of noise that makes the juices flow.  The dedication with which some sit and work the levers with intensity is a study in human psychology.  I have to admit, I enjoyed it and in the end came out even. Never really lost and that is when I decided I had better leave the games of chance to those who know a lot more about it than I do. Playing solitaire or Hearts on the computer is safer for me. Watching the game of hearts being played and lost where it counted, for money, would be more excitement for me than I really need. I do hate to lose!

In going through some of our storage  boxes, from our business, Mr. Dude found this lamp. Very attractive and certainly quality. I wanted to find out more. We knew the purpose and what it was but like most people involved in this business , the mystery of old things, that is not enough. Research is where the fun begins.

This is actually a 3 arm, ( one arm is hidden by the center post) Bouillette Lamp from the 1920s, 30s. As you can see this is designed for electricity, but in the 18th century those candle holders would be for candles, I am getting a little ahead of myself with this tale.

In the 17th century the card game for the gentry in France was Gillet, but as time and circumstances moved forward the new game of Brelan evolved. This from the French brelenc which in literal translation means, a card player, gambler or refers to a place which is provided for card playing. This game of Brelan became the card game of the 17th and early 18th century in France.  The game migrated to England and the name was changed to Brag or Bragg  and from what I can determine, "bluffing" to outwit your fellow players was a major component of the game.  Just like the game of gossip, the rules and interpretation kept changing.This was also a time of great political unrest in France. The game of "Bouillotte" became the game of the 18th century. Based on the French Revolution, it became the great favorite and was played everywhere.. This game was played with 3-5 players  It came to America and was a favorite all through the1830s.  In reading about this, I found that those with great historical knowledge of card games believe that that this early history was the evolution for the game of poker. There are several similarities in both games.

Of course with such a favorite past time, drawing rooms or card rooms had to accommodate the needs and comforts of the players. Tables were invented and lighting was the most important component, thus the lamp called Bouillette lamp. Some were floor lamps, some pull -down ceiling lamps, and of course the table lamp The shade for  these lamps was a shorter oval shape and always metal. Why, because the open flame of candles would have been too dangerous for anything else..   Paper or Fabric became a much later addition.

The center Shaft, or "Tole", not to be confused with tole painting, is shared by 2 to 4 candle arms. This Shaft is designed to rise or lower to accommodate the length of the candles. Some shafts have a key like projection, the lamp above does not have that, but does have a thumb screw for the same use. This is a later model,  certainly vintage, but not a true antique and was always intended for electric. Very often the base was a deep dish shape, this was where the chips were stored during play..

The metal shades for these lamps, as well as paper shades, are still manufactured.  My apologies to those with greater knowledge of  card games and their histories.As I said as I began, I know very little about cards, but I do love the story of how inventions met needs and this is a classic example.

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