A Very Rare Pair of German Erotic Gambling Dice the Nude Male and Female Figures of Finely Carved Ivory Inlaid with Ebony Dots or Pips
Late 17th Century
Sizes: 2.5cm square – 1 ins square
cf: Philip Malgouyres ‘Ivories Collection Du Museé Du Louvre’ Paris, 2010, page 270, no. 232, shows four very similar dice. Two originally catalogued in 1849 as ‘Two Small Obscene Dice’ 1849: 2311
Gambling is one of the oldest known pursuits of mankind. Archaeological evidence has shown that our earliest ancestors were gamblers. Knuckle and ankle bones of sheep dating back over 40,000 years have been found in caves in France and were probably thrown in the same way as dice in order to make predictions. Later dice were used to generate random numbers, each value from 1 to 6 being equally likely when thrown. Numbered dice have been found in the Roman ruins of Pompeii, some of which are ‘loaded’ so that they fall a certain way. The Roman Goddess Fortuna, daughter of Zeus, known as ‘Lady Luck’ was believed to determine the outcome of a throw.