A Rare Marine Ivory Teetotum Gambling Ball

A Rare Marine Ivory Teetotum Gambling Ball

1700 to 1800 England

Offered by Finch & Co

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A Rare Marine Ivory Teetotum Gambling Ball
Early to Mid 18th Century

Size: 4.5cm dia. – 1¾ ins dia.
cf Finch and Co catalogue no. 3, item no. 61, for another example of a teetotum ball
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The Latin word ‘Totum’ means the whole; the whole stake. A teetotum balls acts somewhat like a spinning dice, but is a many faceted spinning top that has each side numbered and so unlike a dice when thrown there is an equal chance of any number turning up. Most teetotum balls are incised with the numbers 1-32, having 32 equally faceted sides.
Gambling by staking a bet on the throw of a teetotum ball probably has its origins in the early 18th century when a four sided ball was inscribed with letters and not numbers: T for Totum (whole), A for Auferre (take away), D for Deponere (putdown), and N for Nihil (nothing). These Latin terms determined whether the spinner of the ball had won or lost according to which lettered side landed uppermost facing the player.

Dimensions
Depth 4.50 cm (1.77 inches)
Medium
Ivory
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