(GAME). ~ Pope Joan. [British, early to mid nineteenth century].
Lacquered circular wooden game board (diameter 330 mm) on original revolving base and central lid. Red lacquer with lettering and ornament in gold, black and colours. The colours quite worn and chipped with an expected degree of soiling, but the whole sound and attractive.
Pope Joan was a card game popular in both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the name a corruption of the French Nain jaune, the original form of the game. Though widely played before 1800 its first published rules appeared in Hoyle's Games edition of 1814, with the ‘staking board’ having eight compartments labelled: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Game, Pope, Matrimony and Intrigue. Each player receives a number of counters, or chips, whose value is determined by the players involved in the game. The 8 of diamonds is then removed from the pack to form a ‘stop sequence’. The aim of the game is to run out of cards before anyone else.
The game features in Humphreys’ famous satirical print of 1796, ‘Lady Godina’s Rout’ depicting the Lady Georgiana Gordon, Duchess of Bedford at play in a state of dishabillée, while Dickens portrays it as a wholly innocuous family parlour game in the Pickwick Papers and his Life and Times.