CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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Puzzles and Games

November 28, 2018 (permalink)

From Kladderadatsch, 1938.  For the secret of why to roll blank dice, see Astragalomancy: A Loaded Guide: Intriguing Readings of 21 Discrete Dice Throws.  By the way, in his novel Bury Me Among the GravesTim Powers describes organized dice rolling without looking at the numbers: "The old dwarf tossed the objects to the floor, and Crawford saw that they were dice. McKee turned and caught Crawford's chin in her hand. 'Don't look at the numbers on them,' she said. 'But if you want to be helpful, you could pick them up and throw them, over and over again. Not looking, remember.' ... As he dropped the dice one more time onto the floor, it occurred to Crawford that he had been hearing this repetitive rattle ever since they had entered this chamber. Were these dice thrown perpetually, their numbers never read? Chuchuwee must employ a relay of children to keep it up."
#vintage illustration #art #blank dice
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November 13, 2018 (permalink)

From Jugend, 1913.
#vintage illustration #death #skeleton #grim reaper #art #war games
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July 21, 2018 (permalink)

The only sides of the dice with spots are six, six, six.  From Kladderadatsch, 1940.
#vintage illustration #art #666 #six six six #three sixes #dice roll #all sixes
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June 22, 2018 (permalink)

A rare playing card in which one end of the figure is facing away.  From Zwanzigste Jahrhundert, 1921.
Playing cards dealt through time -- see my playing cards gallery.
#vintage illustration #political cartoon #art #sword #king of hearts #playing card
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February 12, 2018 (permalink)

Rock beats scissors.  From Kladderadatsch, 1923.   See the Zen version of Rock-Paper-Scissors: Moon-Fish-Ocean.
#vintage illustration #art #jesus #rock paper scissors
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January 3, 2018 (permalink)

Which is better: a good book or a game of chess?  The answer is from The Idler, 1894.  The game of chess and a good book are combined here: If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#chess #i prefer reading #good book
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December 30, 2017 (permalink)

Here's an old Scottish holiday card that was originally meant to be cut into squares so as to rearrange the heads, bodies, and legs. We put it through one of the many tools we use to create Abecedarian. Click the blue arrows to slide the rows back and forth.

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November 29, 2017 (permalink)

From Die Bühne, 1925. 
#vintage illustration #art #games
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November 26, 2017 (permalink)

"Luck versus brains in our better-known games," from The Sketch, 1911.  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#vintage illustration #luck #gambling #games of chance #art #card game #roulette #chess #baccarat #games of skill
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November 5, 2017 (permalink)

"Games you can't beat."  From Popular Mechanics, 1927.
#vintage illustration #art #shell game
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November 3, 2017 (permalink)

The 8 of Diamonds: "Night is Might."  From Jugend, 1902.
#vintage illustration #art #vintage cards #playing cards #eight of diamonds
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October 17, 2017 (permalink)

From Popular Mechanics, 1924.
#vintage illustration #art #tiny man #giant checkers
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October 3, 2017 (permalink)

"An old card superstition that people standing behind one's back during play bring bad luck is well founded."  From Popular Mechanics, 1927.
#vintage illustration #superstition #art #card game
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September 16, 2017 (permalink)

Checkers isn't as big a game as it used to be.  From Le Rire, 1899.
#vintage illustration #art #game board #checkers
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September 11, 2017 (permalink)

Here's a game played with a hair brush, a folded newspaper bat, a bath robe waist cord for a net, and a plaster-of-Paris advertising pickle as a ball, from "A Better Game" by Robert Carlton Brown and illustrated by Arthur William Brown, in Pearson's, 1910.  "When I'm served pickles I want 'em on a plate."
#vintage illustration #art #impromptu game
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September 5, 2017 (permalink)

Here's a "word in a urinal" puzzle from Le Rire, 1903.
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August 30, 2017 (permalink)

Playing chess while asleep, from Harmsworth Magazine, 1899.  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#vintage illustration #art #chess #sleep gaming
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August 11, 2017 (permalink)

"On the turn of the card," from Truth Christmas Number, 1894.
#vintage illustration #art #cards
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August 6, 2017 (permalink)

From Truth Christmas Number, 1894.  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#vintage illustration #political cartoon #art #chess
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June 20, 2017 (permalink)

This rather occult-looking rebus (in German) features a succubus who has apparently hearned how to be her own cat.  (See How to Be Your Own Cat.)  From Die Bühne, 1927.
#vintage illustration #demon #art #cat people #succubus #rebus
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