Wednesday, November 16, 2016

17-20C Trucco - A cousin of Golf, Croquet, & Lawn Billiards

1600s Gentlemen playing trucco or lawn billiards, while ladies and gentleman dine in an ivy-covered pergola near formal garden beds. Trucco was also played at local taverns with large garden & park areas.

Trucco (alternately called trucks, troco, or lawn billiards) is an Italian and English lawn game played with heavy balls; large-headed cues called tacks; rings (the argolis or port); and sometimes an upright pin (the sprigg or king). The game was popular from at least the early 17C into the 20C. It was a forerunner of croquet, and probably evolved from ground billiards, which uses very similar equipment. The oldest name for the game in English seems to be "trucks" or "truck" from the Italian trucco and Spanish troco, meaning "billiard". Trucco was popular as a country house pastime. Under the name "lawn billiards," it appears as an alternative to croquet in books of games.

The editor's preface of the 1856 book Enquire Within Upon Everything, a "vast congregation of useful hints and receipts" describes the game. Enquire Within Upon Everything was a how-to book for domestic life, edited by Robert Kemp Philp & 1st published in 1856, by Houlston & Sons of Paternoster Square in London. "This is a game that may be played by any number of persons in a field or open space. The implements are wooden balls and long-handled cues at the ends of which are spoonlike ovals of iron. In the centre of the trucco court is fixed a ring of iron, which moves freely on a pivot, the spike of the ring being driven into a piece of wood let into the ground. The wooden ball is lifted from the ground by means of the spoon-ended cue, and thrown towards the ring — the object of the player being to pass the ball through the ring; and he who succeeds in making any given number of points by fairly ringing his ball, or canoning against the other balls, wins the game. Canons are made by the player striking two balls successively with his own ball fairly delivered from his spoon. Thus...a clever player may make a large number of points — 5, 7, or more at a stroke: 2 the first canon, 2 for a second canon, and 3 for the ring. This, however, is very seldom accomplished. Considerable skill is required in throwing the ball, as the ring, turning freely on its pivot, twists round on being struck. To 'make the ring,' it is necessary, therefore, that the ball be thrown fairly through its centre. But in order to get nearer to it a judicious player will endeavour to make two or three canons, if the balls lie within a convenient distance and at a proper angle to each other. If the ball be thrown with sufficient force, it will glance off from the ball struck in a line corresponding to its first or original line of projection."