News & Insights

Rare Oversize Teetotum

26th March 2021.

An unusually large ivory teetotum, lottery or gambling ball is one of a number of good lots of ivory coming up for sale in Tennants Auctioneers Antiques & Interiors auction on 10th April. The ball, which measures 7cm in diameter, is thought to date from the early 18th century and has 32 numbered sides. Such gambling balls usually measure approximately 4.5cm. Teetotum or gambling balls were developed in the 17th century for use in lotteries, being a fairer method than sets of dice as each of the 32 sides has an equal chance of winning. The number 1 side of this example is also incised with a crown, which certified that the gambling ball had not been weighted and was true and fair. Examples incised with the initials of the reigning king or queen have also been found.

Also on offer is a 19th Century carved ivory cane topper in the form of a phrenology bust. Finely carved, the topper is inscribed ‘Isvesley’, and measures 7.5cm high. A charming Dieppe ivory figural desk seal in the form of a boy in 18th century dress is being sold together with a group of 19th century ivory and bone sewing implements. Further notable lots include a group of Asian ivory items including a Japanese Meiji period cricket box in the form of a basket, two 19th century Canton carved ivory gaming pots, and a fine Japanese Shibayama miniature knife.

All lots are sold without estimate.

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