The Game of Graces

by Bernard De Koven on April 17, 2012

When I first played the Game of Graces I had no idea what it was called. It was then sold by a company in Delaware, Ohio that made beautiful wooden games (and has since gone the way of many beautiful wooden game-making companies), and all I remember was the fun of it. It surprised and delighted me to discover that two sticks could launch a ring so far and so gracefully with such relatively little effort.

I have since learned that it was called “The Game of Graces,” and was, according to Wikipedia, “invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces. The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful. Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.”

A little more research led me to a company called Ragged Soldier Sutlery and Vintage Volumes, devoted to, among other things, bringing American history to life. They make a replica of the game.

They write:

This game is mentioned in (Civil war era) activity books for both boys and girls. It consists of two pairs of sticks, two wooden hoops, and some ribbons for ornament. The hoop is tossed back and forth on the sticks and, with the ribbons attached, almost looks like a period illustration.

To play the game, we recommend starting with just one hoop. Each player takes two sticks and the person to toss the hoop puts the hoop over both sticks. The sticks are then crossed and, as the sticks are pulled away from each other, the hoop will slide up the sticks. If the sticks are pulled quickly, the hoop will fly off the end of the sticks toward the other player. The other player catches the hoop and tosses it back in the same manner.

After both players become skilled, they can each launch a hoop simultaneously. To avoid collisions in mid-air, the players may want to agree ahead of time which hoop will be tossed high and which will be low.

Yet more research led me to a company called RingStix.

They write:

“the coolest 21st Century out-door game.”

And so it goes, old games become new again. The name changes. The design gets modified. And the fun continues.

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