Item Details

Late Victorian Life Pool Scoreboard by R Stevens & Sons, London

Ref# cacf-4857
A late Victorian mahogany life pool scoreboard by R Stevens & Sons of London.

This small and beautifully made example of a life pool scoreboard is comprised of twelve mahogany slides with players’ ball colour indicators to the side. The player would be allocated a coloured ball and the slide would be pulled out to reveal three mother of pearl discs which indicate that player’s number of lives during the game. The player would cue their coloured ball into another player’s colour with the hope of potting their opponent’s ball. Each time a player’s ball is potted, they lose a life and the slide is pushed in to cover one of the discs. When only one player remains then the “pool” is claimed by the winner.

The game was a popular betting game during the nineteenth century and got its name from the pool of money that was collected at the start of the game. The stars that slide out from the inside of the slide were an additional twist to the game where a player could buy back into the game by adding an additional wager and regaining a number of lives. Numerous different rules exist around life pool but the star is considered only available if a certain number of people are playing.

Little social history of the Stevens company is known which seems rather unusual given their long trading period and the fact that the company took part in the 1878 Paris Exhibition as part of the British delegation under the Prince of Wales, the foundation of the company is thought to have taken place in 1830. Certainly by the time of the Paris Exposition Universelle, the company was named Stevens & Sons which suggest a partnership between at least three people, however the Gazette of May 1889 records the dissolution of a partnership between a Richard Nelson & Arthur Robert Stevens (perhaps surviving sons) whereafter the business was continued by Richard and renamed as R. Stevens & Sons.

Richard Nelson Stevens was retired by 1907 as the Gazette further describes a dissolution of a partnership between him and his two sons, Alfred Richard and Herbert Donald. Both of the sons continued a new partnership following their father’s departure under the same name. By 1917, the company had undergone a further change of title to W. Stevens with a William Nelson Stevens at the helm. Given the middle name it can be assumed that his middle name was a nod to his grandfather, Richard. The company was incorporated in 1925 and was finally subsumed in 1967 by Bennett’s.

Circa 1900

Price: £695