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English, late 19th century
Stock No. 9050
The oldest known domino set in existence was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb, amongst the ruins of Thebes. He was king of ancient Egypt in the 18th dynasty, 1355 BC. The set is now in Tutankhamen’s museum in Cairo. It has also been established by historians that a Chinese set with 32 pieces existed in the year 1120 AD. The game went on to appear in Italy in the early 18th century and, from there, spread to the rest of Europe, becoming exceptionally popular in the home and public drinking places alike. The rather more involved game of Chinese dominoes also evolved into the type of tile set that became Mah Jong, a game that enjoyed universal popularity, in the early part of the 20th century.
Historically, domino pieces were carved from ivory or bone with the small round marks being of inset ebony. Occasionally, a little brass stud, set in the middle of the piece, allows it to spin as it is being shuffled. The conventional domino set consists of 28 dominoes, colloquially known as bones, cards, tiles, tickets, stones, or spinners, and each end of the domino represents the throw of one of the two dice used to play the game. The larger numbered dominoes, such as double 9s, 12s or 15s are more suitable for a greater number of players.
Reputedly, ivory dominoes were routinely used in 19th century rural England in the settling of disputes over traditional grazing boundaries, the game being commonly referred to as ‘bonesticks’.