Victorian Tabletop Croquet Set
Victorian Tabletop Croquet Set
During the Victorian era, parlor games were all the rage. Victorian families were among the first ever to enjoy abundant free time, and among the last to pass that time without television.
Given their free time, Victorians played numerous interactive parlor games, ranging from cards (euchre, bridge, seven-up) and board games (dominoes, checkers, chess) to 20 Questions and charades. In addition to those simpler games that required little or no equipment, tabletop croquet also became a popular pastime as it could be enjoyed by several couples indoors, regardless of the weather or time of day.
From Victorian England, and found at market in London, we are pleased to present a magnificent and very rare Antique Tabletop Croquet Set that wonderfully captures the spirit of the age. A gorgeous turned wood rack neatly displays the croquet mallets, along with croquet balls and a winning post. The rack's central arm makes the set easy to transport to and from the table. In addition, the set includes metal hoops that are weighted on both ends to keep them secure during play.
As games have enjoyed a huge resurgence with more time spent at home indoors, this wonderful Victorian set will be a storied, handsome addition to your game night repertoire.
Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. Circa 1900. In very good antique condition. Rack measures 14.25"H x 8.5"D. Mallets are 12"L. Set includes display rack, 8 mallets, 7 balls, 9 hoops and one croquet winning post. Please note: one of the croquet balls has some damage as shown in the alternate images. The damage would prevent it from rolling properly.
Learn More About Croquet
The modern game of croquet seems to have begun in England during the 1850s. According to many sources, it was an imported version of an Irish game called “crooky" and may have roots going all the way back to medieval France and a popular game then called paille-maille (Pall Mall).
No matter its exact origin, the sport quickly became popular first in England and then other English-speaking countries. With its popularity, British game makers began producing sets for the growing leisure class that had both the time and resources to play. This availability of croquet equipment was instrumental in its growth and acceptance.
As the sport flourished, it was especially popular among women as it allowed them a startling amount of freedom. First, it was a game both men and women played outdoors together. In an age when women weren’t thought fit for sport of any kind, this was an exciting new change.
Second, it offered pushback against strict Victorian courting rules. Women could play croquet without a chaperone peering over their shoulders and couples found ways to be completely alone during play. (Balls hit into the woods would need to be retrieved and it wasn't safe for a woman to go into the woods without a man accompanying her!)
Croquet reached its peak of popularity in England during the 1860s. In 1868, the All England Croquet Club was formed. In 1869, the group leased land in Wimbledon and held National Championships there. But, when lawn tennis began to overtake croquet in popularity, the croquet lawns were transformed into the tennis courts we know today. In fact, beginning in the 1870s, croquet started to become less popular in England.
At the same time, however, Americans took up the sport with gusto. As early as 1865, the Newport Croquet Club was formed in Rhode Island. In 1882, the National Croquet Association was founded. The sport had its ups and downs here too, though. During the 1890s, the Boston clergy advised against croquet due to the alleged drinking, gambling, and other unwanted behavior associated with the game.
By the 1930s and 1940s, though, croquet was enjoying a renaissance among the American elite. Two trends then prevailed in America for the remainder of the century: on the one hand, toy croquet sets began to be manufactured in the 1950s. With simplified rules and miniature equipment, croquet became known by some as a “children’s game.” In contrast to that, croquet also became a serious sport in the 1960s and 1970s. The Westhampton Mallet Club was formed in 1960, and the New York Croquet Club in 1967. In fact, it was a 1960 challenge match between the Westhampton Mallet Club and London’s Hurlingham Club that revived interest in the sport.
Finally, in 1977 the United States Croquet Association was organized and made up of six east coast clubs. Rules were designed for an American version of the game (using 6 wickets) and they sponsor tournaments that are held even today. It’s estimated 10,000 men and women currently play croquet in the United States and Canada.