By Dan Beard
Jack Stones is another game that was old when Greek civilization was young. "Chuckie
Stanes," "Chuck Stones," "Five Stones," and
"Knuckle-Bones," are some of the names by which the game has been
Knuckle-Bones were in favor for use in this game two thousand years ago and
are still used. White, water-washed pebbles; crockery stilts, which are little
three-legged bits of earthenware upon which china and earthenware are placed
when firing; iron stilts, made in imitation of the crockery ones; "lucky
stones," which are bones from the inside of the head of the fresh-water
fish called sheepsheads; and marbles, are all used in this country for jacks.
But perhaps the best are the earthenware stilts with an agate (marble) for the
Jack is the name given to the stone which is thrown up while the different
feats are performed.
The game opens with one player taking the five stones in his hand. Holding
the hand, palm up (Fig. 296), he tosses them into the air (Fig. 297). Before the
stones have time to descend the player turns his hand over and catches as many
as he can on the back of the hand (Fig. 298).
These, he again tosses up (Fig.
299), and before they descend he picks up those jacks that he failed to catch on
the back of his hand (Fig. 300). Quickly turning the hand he catches the
descending jacks, and now holds all five in his fist (Fig. 301).
Whenever a player fails the next in turn takes the jacks. After successfully
catching the jacks on the back of the hand, or picking up all that fell
off, the player does the second feat, called "Ones".
First rolling the stones from his hand on to the ground, he throws his Jack
up, and before it falls, picks up a stone. Again tossing up Jack he picks up
another, continuing until all are successfully picked up from the ground. The
next play is called
Again rolling the stones on the earth and tossing Jack aloft, the player
picks up two stones at a time, and, sending Jack up again he picks up the
remaining two. This same process is repeated in
but in this play one is picked up first and three at the next toss, or three
first and one afterward.
All four stones must be picked up while Jack is in the air.
Drive the Horses in their Stalls:
Roll the stones from the hand on to the ground, and place the left hand with
fingers spread apart on the ground near the jack stones. Toss Jack aloft, and
before he comes down, drive one of the stones between the outspread first and
second fingers. This is called putting the horse in the stable or stall. Do the
same with all the other stones. Then in succession
Drive the Horses Out of their Stalls:
all the others, then bunch them together and pick up all four, and
catch Jack as he descends.
Jumping the Hurdles:
Place the four horses (jack stones) in a line. Then toss Jack up, and
before he comes down, pick up the first and third stones together and catch Jack
as he comes down. The second and fourth are next caught up together and Jack is
caught as he falls.
Four of the Jacks are placed to represent the four bases on the base-ball
field. Jack is sent aloft and the jack stone at home base is picked up and
deposited at first base and Jack is caught as he falls. Jack is again tossed up,
and the second base is run in the same manner, and then the third, and then the
home base. Now the first-base man is picked up and set down at the second, then
the first and second are picked up together and set down at third, then the
first, second, and third are all taken up at one time and set down at home base.
Then as Jack is again tossed up all four are taken up at the same time and Jack
is caught before he reaches the ground.
Cats in the Well:
The Jacks are rolled from the hand on to the ground; these are the cats. Then
the left hand of the player is placed near them with the fist lightly closed,
the thumb and first finger forming the opening to the well. Jack is now thrown
up, and while he is in the air, one of the four cats on the ground is picked up
and put in the well. The same operation is repeated with the second, third, and
fourth cat, until all have been drowned in the well. The left hand is now taken
away and the dead cats are left in a bunch. Jack is tossed up and all four of
the cats are picked up before Jack comes down.
Sending the People to Church:
Again the stones are spilled upon the ground. This time they have changed
from dead cats to well-dressed people, but people who need urging before they
will go to church. The left hand is placed with fingers crooked and spread
apart. The ends of the fingers resting on the ground form the bases to the
arched doorways of the church, while the hollowed palm forms the ceiling and the
back of the hand the roof.
Jack is now sent up and one of the Sunday idlers is driven through one of the
five doorways into the church. One at a time, all four are sent to church. Then
all four are gathered up while Jack is above, and Jack joins them when be is
caught as he returns to earth.
When girls play Jack-stones they use a pretty marble for Jack, select a stone
step to play upon, and allow Jack to strike the step and catch him on the
rebound. They also have a number of feats generally ignored by the boys. These
feats, such as "peas in a pod," "setting the table,"
"doves in a cot," " spinning the plate," "knock at the
door," "pick up a pin," "light a match," "washing
the clothes," will be left for web pages written for girls.