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  Free Online Rule Books

Hoyle Encyclopedia of Games 1909
Hoyle Encyclopedia of Games 1897
Hoyle Handbook of Games 1894
Modern Pocket Hoyle 1868
Modern Pocket Hoyle 1868
Hoyle's Games 1857
Bohn's Hand-Book of Games 1856
Hoyle's Games 1847
Hoyle's Improved Edition 1838
Hoyle's Games Improved 1814
The Compleat Gamester 1754

  Free Playing Card Books

Prophetical & Playing Cards 1912
Cavalier Playing Cards 1886
Hand-Book of Games 1867
History of Playing Cards 1848
History of Playing Cards 1816
Rational Recreations 1774

  Free Poker & Gambling Books

The Game of Draw Poker 1889
Draw: Rules for Playing Poker 1880

Gambling Tricks Exposed 1911
History of Gambling in England 1898
Chinese Gambling Games 1891
Chance & Luck 1889
Monaco, Its Gaming Tables 1881
The Gaming Table 1870

  Free Checkers Books

Checker Classics 1922
RD Yates: Checker Player 1905
Game of Draughts 1884
England-Scotland Draughts 1884
Game of Draughts 1852

  Free Game Books

Social Games & Dances 1919
Folk Dances, Singing Games 1913
Games & Dances 1912
Folk Dances & Games 1908

Musical Games & Puzzles 1910

Book of Table Games 1894
Parlor Amusements 1875
Book of Parlor Games 1853

Camp & Outing Activities 1915
Outdoor Handy Book 1900

100 Mass Play Games 1921
325 Group Contests 1918

Hand-Book of Games 1922
Health by Stunts 1919
Athletic Games Handbook 1916
150 Gymnastic Games 1902
Tumbling, Tricks & Games 1899

Traditional British Games 1898
English Pasttimes 1876
Games of Argyleshire 1901
Korean Games 1895
Swedish Song Games 1913

What Shall We Do Now? 1922
Mary Dawson Game Book 1916
Games for Halloween 1912
Plays & Games 1909
In & Outdoor Games 1904
Rhymes, Games, Songs, Stories 1904
The Play of Man 1901
Home Games & Parties 1898
Great Men at Play 1889
Bazaar Entertainment 1886
Pasttimes & Players 1881
The Game of Ombre 1878
Ancient & Modern Games 1836
The Book of Games 1812
The Court-Gamester 1722

  Free Game Books For Kids

Singing Games for Children 1917
Book of Playcraft 1916
The Playground Book 1916
When Mother Lets Us Play 1911
Little Folk's Handy Book 1910
Games for the Playground 1909
US Kids Games & Songs 1903
Children's Singing Games 1894
Finger Plays for Nursery 1889
Counting-Out Rhymes 1888
Playground & Parlour 1868
Book of Nursery Rhymes 1846

93 Free Chess Books
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  Board Games, Puzzles, Traditional Games...

The Scholastic Store is the largest publisher and distributor of children's books. Scholastic’s most popular titles include Harry Potter and The Magic School Bus. The Scholastic Store Online also sells toys and games you’ll find only at Scholastic Inc.

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  Computer Games and Video Games

Aces High takes the art and science of vintage WWII air combat and sets it in an online high intensity environment where hundreds of players can battle it out with each other. The software is a free download, and you can play OFFLINE for free. In addition to flying a multitude of aircraft types, players can also man vehicles, boats, amphibs, gun batteries, and ships. Download the free software, and after 2 weeks free trial ONLINE play, you pay a subscription to continue to play online 24 hours a day with participants from around the world.

The New York Times, October 8, 1871 p. 2:

PLAYING-CARDS

    Few who sit down to a pleasant game at whist or piquet have any idea how many centuries these painted bits of card have furnished amusement to the human race.

    Far away into the times of unwritten history, the Chinese, Hindus and Arabs were making their different contributions of a warlike game, bearing many relations to its sister, chess. On thins slips of ivory, mother-of-pearl, or wood, the devices were painted for the hands of oriental despots; no less than eight armies and eight players struggled for victory, under the command of a king, a vizier, and an elephant.
    China seems to have been the home of their invention; from thence they passed on to India, about 1120, and were soon adopted by the Arabs.

    Our Crusaders in their turn learned the game of their foes, and from the number of decrees forbidding their use issued by the Church, we may believe that they were soon spread all over Europe.
    The first authentic mention of that occurs of them is in a Chronicle of NICOLAS DE COVELLUZZO, a native of Viterbo, which says: "In 1379 the game of cards was introduced at Viterbo from the land of the Saracens, and which is called by them naïb."

    We hear of them in Burgos in 1387, in Paris in 1392, in Ulm in 1397, keeping the root of their Arab name, as they are still called in Spain naypes, naïb in Arabic meaning captain or lieutenant.
    Italy soon adopted the title of tarots or tarocchi, owing to the back of the card being taroté, or covered with little points or divisions, invented to prevent knaves from marking the cards and cheating at the game.

    From the fourteenth century we find them spread all over Europe; they are mentioned in the lists of plate and jewelry belonging to monarchs and nobles; councils and synods condemned and forbade them, as well as royal proclamations; commerce, however, still multiplied them, in perfecting the process of fabrication.
    In the miniatures of manuscripts, in the early attempts of engraving on wood and copper, we see the game portrayed; poets, romance writers, and traveling storytellers do not forget them in their writings; and fragile as were the cards themselves, there are some painted and engraved which belong to the fifteenth century still in existence.

    A fresco at Bologna, painted in 1440, represents four soldiers playing at cards done by FRANCISCO FIBBIA; and the year after we find the celebrated card-makers of Venice complaining that the trade was departing out of their hands, in consequence of the great number of playing-cards with painted and printed figures which were introduced from other countries, and praying the Senate to lay a tax on these foreign productions, whether printed on linen or paper.

    It may be well to remark that here we have the first mention of printed cards, which probably came from Germany. A pack of these are still in existence engraved with the burin, which are supposed to be the work of FINIGUERRA or MANTEGNA, and at any rate belong to this period of Italian art. It seems probable that they were made at Padua or Florence, and are imitations of the earliest Italian tarocchi, which vary somewhat from the cards now in use.

    The design is at once simple and good in outline, the engraving fine and harmonious; they are divided into five series, each of ten cards, and bear the names of the muses, the sciences, the heavenly bodies, and the virtues.

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    The so-called cards of CHARLES VI. of France, which are now in the Bibliothèque du Roi in Paris, are probably the most ancient of any that are preserved in the various public collections of Europe. There are but seventeen, painted with all the delicacy of the illuminated miniatures in the illuminated manuscripts of the period, on a gold ground, and surrounded by a silver border, in which is a ribbon rolled spirally round done in points.

    It is to this that the cards owe their name of tarots, being marked in compartments, as we often see them in the present day, when the back is covered with arabesques.
    These cards differ somewhat from the Italian ones, bearing neither numbers nor devices. There is
    The Emperor in silver armor, a diadem of fleurs-de-lis on his head, and, holding a globe and a sceptre;
    The Pope with his triple crown, the Gospels and keys of St. Peter in his hands, and seated between two Cardinals;
   The crescent moon rises above two astrologers in long furred robes, who are measuring the conjunctions of the planets with compasses;

    The fool wearing a cap with asses' ears, and a deep pointed ruff round his neck, while four children are throwing stones at him;
    Death, mounted on a white horse, is throwing down kings, popes, and bishops;
    The House of God seems half devoured by flames;
    And finally, the last judgement shows us the dead rising from their tombs to the sound of trumpets.

    It will be seen that this game offered a philosophical representation of life from a Christian point of view; they might serve as a pastime for the poor king during his sad years of dark and furious madness, but would scarcely please his frivolous and corrupt court, where, notwithstanding the tumult of riots among the people, and civil discord dividing every class, it only occupied itself with pleasure, fêtes, masquerades and tournaments, under the influence of a gallant and voluptuous chivalry. In this brilliant and refined court, which blinded itself to the gravity of political events, and tried to stifle with the sound of instruments, dances and songs the ferocious shouts of the populace in the Halles, the courtiers would assuredly decline to play with cards which reminded them of the solemnities of life.

    It will be readily believed that such works of art as these early packs of cards were not accessible to the multitude, but were very costly and only fit for kings and nobles. In an old account-book of the monarchs of France, we find that the treasurer paid in 1392 about £8 [around $400 of 21st century money] of our present money for three packs; and a single pack, exquisitely painted by MARZIANO, secretary to the Duke of Milan, cost, but a few years later, 1,500 gold crowns.
    But as the more economical way of printing and engraving came into use, both which arts were known long before printing with moveable types, the price of these coveted articles fell rapidly, and in 1454 a pack bought for the Dauphin cost no more than 10s.

    As time passed on, the figures on the cards changed with the costume of the time, according to the caprices of the court or the imagination of the maker. The pointed beard, heavy collar and plumed hat appeared as the dress of the kings; the hair turned back and crimped, the lace collar, and the farthingale, as that of the queens.
    One old pack represents the four great monarchies--Jewish, Greek, Roman and French, under the Kings DAVID, ALEXANDER, CÆSAR and CHARLEMAGNE; while the queens symbolize the manner of reigning--JUDITH, by piety; RACHEL, by beauty; PALLAS, by wisdom; ARGINE, which is the anagram of Regina, by heirship; and the knaves the four ages of chivalry--HECTOR, the valiant Trojan chief; AGIER, a paladin of CHARLEMAGNE; LANCELOT, one of the twelve knights of ARTHUR'S Round Table; and LAHIRE, the bold captain of CHARLES VII.

    The ace has borne many different interpretations: some imagined it to be the symbol of money for the payment of the troops, and derived it from the old Roman coin, giving it a power superior even to a king; others saw in it the first of the lower ten cards, and explained the name as coming from the Celtic as, signifying first or chief.

    As regards England, though it received the game from a very early period through the trade it carried on with the Hanseatic and Dutch towns, yet it does not appear that any cards were manufactured here before the end of the sixteenth century, since under the reign of ELIZABETH the Government reserved to itself the monopoly of playing-cards imported from abroad. The oldest which are known, and which closest approach the early Italian packs, were discovered by Dr. STUKELY in the binding of a book. Unhappily, the originals have been destroyed, but correct drawings made at the time are in possession of the Society of Antiquaries, and have been reproduced in SINGER'S work on the the subject.
    They have been coarsely engraved and printed in two colors, green and brown, which were those usually employed by the German makers, while the French were indigo and vermilion. They mark a very early period, when the arts of drawing, engraving and printing were in their infancy.

    Spain received from the Arabs and the Moors the eastern game of naïb long before cards were made at Viterbo, but when the latter became general, the excited the utmost enthusiasm in the country, and a passion for the play existed; so much so, that when the companions of CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, after their discovery of America, formed the first establishment in the island of San Domingo, they found nothing better to do than at once to manufacture cards from the leaves of trees.
--Chambers' Journal



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