A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Playing Card Skittles|
page attempts to record what is known about the history
of folded playing cards, and Playing Card Monks /
Capuchins, being used as skittles and to play the simple
children's game, now often normally known in English as
domino rally, in which objects stood on end fall in
succession. Please contact me if you know any of this
information is incorrect or if you have any other
information that should be added. Thank you.
These two paintings by Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin (1699 - 1779) both show boys playing with folded playing cards. In the first picture it appears that it is the game of domino rally that is being played. The purpose of the folded cards in the second picture is less clear, and it is possible they may have been intended to be somehow incorporated into the house of cards. Both pictures are dated c1735/7.
A written description of how to make 'Les Capuchins' / Playing Card Monks and how to use them as skittles to play the game of domino rally, appears in 'Manuel Complet des Jeux de Société' by Elisabeth Celnart, which was published by La Librairie Encyclopedique de Roret in Paris in 1827.
Roughly, 'Here is the simplest cutting of cards: wide at one end, pointed at the other, and slightly curved at the top, to keep it in balance, the Capuchin, which resembles a rifle bayonet, is a sort of card skittle; indeed, the children plant the Capuchins close to each other, and when one falls, the others fall in a row.'
'Manual completo de juegos de sociedad o tertulia y la prendas', translated by Frances for D. Mariano de Rementería y Fica, which was published by Palacios in Madrid in 1831, contains a translation of the material about the Playing Card Monk which appeared in Celnart (see above).
Similar material also appears in 'Juegos de los Ninos', which was published in Madrid by R y Fonseca in 1847. The final sentence says, roughly, 'The children stand the cards up, one after the other ... then, dropping the first, they push each other over and all of them fall in succession.'
The version of the game using Playing Card Monks / Capuchins is illustrated in 'Jeux et Jouet du Jeune Age' by Gaston Tissandier, which was published by G Masson in Paris in 1884.