The Game of Graces

by Bernie DeKoven 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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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lily Belland April 18, 2012 at 1:05 am

You’ve actually played this. It looks pretty tricky. I imagine I would spend more time laughing about how I “almost” caught it, or “almost” threw it, than actually playing the game. Either way, it looks like fun!

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Bernie DeKoven April 18, 2012 at 8:02 am

Yup. Actually played it. I had the most fun just launching the rings into the vast unknown. Because, basically, catching the things wasn’t something I seemed destined for. Here‘s another place that sells them. Enjoy!

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carolyn April 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

My family first came across this game 6 years ago at Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth NH. We fell in love with it and made our own version using wooden dowels and the inside ring of wooden embroidery hoops covered with ribbon. I keep it in the trunk of my car so it goes where ever we do. We will often pull it out while at the park, beach and even camping. There always ends up being onlookers that we invite to join in.

Great for old and young. I think my youngest was 5 when we started playing. Easy to learn takes a few tries to master, but well worth the fun!

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