Roulette Wheel Parlor Game
Match Holder on Wine Motif Rococo Revival Stand

This item is sold. It has been placed here in our online archives as a service for researchers and collectors.

Roulette Wheel Parlor Game and Match Holder
English or American: Late 19th Century
Brass, printed paper and cast iron
13.5 inches high; 6.5-inch diameter wheel
Sold, please inquire as to the availability of similar items.

This novelty match holder incorporates a parlor game roulette wheel.  The brass dial is engraved with an assortment of numbers between 10 and 25,000, the face enclosed by glass and decorated with an applied chromolithograph print -- a sentimental Victorian-style illustration of two elegantly dressed children seated on steps beside a pond, the boy with a dachshund and the girl holding a doll.  When the dial is spun, an internal brass ball randomly drops into one of various scalloped recesses and the number of points is indicated by the corresponding dial number. 

The game is fitted onto a Rococo-revival cast iron stand with wine motifs that incorporates a match holder.  A raised relief figure of a cherub sits amidst grape vines atop a wine barrel-shaped compartment for holding matches, the shaped base decorated with a central scallop shell form.

In a pre-electronic age, Victorians put games and novelties in their parlors for amusement.  Decorative match holders for storing matches were manufactured during the 19th century and into the early 20th.  They came in a variety of materials and an endless array of inventive forms, but basically fall into two categories, wall-hung and tabletop.  When matches were no longer routinely needed to light fires for cooking and home heating, decorative match holders declined as common household items.

Although this particular example somewhat incongruously incorporates a game with a picture of small children with the adult function of holding self-striking matches -- not to mention the wine imagery -- the date, type of materials and construction suggest that the wheel and base are original, not associated.  It is plausible that the paper dial illustration is of the period, but a replacement.  However, there was in fact a subgenre of match holders incorporating games, puzzles or humor.


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