Woman's bid to solve mystery of vintage cribbage board

​It is a popular family game often played by sailors in the US Navy to pass the time while away at sea.

Kristen Hunter found the cribbage board in a charity shop.
Kristen Hunter found the cribbage board in a charity shop.

Now a woman who bought a vintage cribbage set in an Edinburgh charity shop is trying to identify the original owner - after finding that the history of every game played is charted on the inside.

Kristen Hunter, from Midlothian, bought the wooden set at the Bethany charity shop on Edinburgh's Causewayside ten years ago. She has since discovered a list of games - complete with scores - played in various locations.

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Ms Hunter said: "I learnt to play from my grandma when I was five. It’s one of those games that people definitely have fond memories playing and it’s very social. I put the board away a long time ago and got it out recently with the plan to teach it to my six year old daughter, Charlotte, then I became fascinated by the details of the games detailed on the box and who the original owner was."

The game, which appears to have been manufactured in the US, has the words "property of Julie Danowitz" written in pencil on the inside of the cover and lists games played in the early 1940s in US states including Virginia and Georgia. The scores are listed against the initial "J" - which could refer to Ms Danowitz - and "X".

The next set of games begins in the late 1960s, but does not list the location.

Ms Hunter, who is originally from the US herself, said: "They had a long break from playing and picked up again in the late 1960s. The last game was played in 1979 and then there is nothing. It’s a real mystery.

“It seems to have been made in 1937, so is probably one of the earlier editions of the game made like this. I don’t know whether ‘X’ is just what she always called her opponent or if it was someone who had that initial who she regularly played with.”

She added: “I’m intrigued as to how it ended up in Edinburgh, whether a student brought it over and left it or what. It is usually a family game and is quite intimate and takes a long time. I’d love to get it back to someone who it meant something to, if they were a relative of Julie Danowitz.”

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Ms Hunter posted images of the board on social media, but has not had a response from anyone who knew Ms Danowitz.

The game of cribbage is believed to have been invented by British soldier and poet Sir John Suckling in the 17th century. English settlers would bring the game to America where it became popular among sailors and fishermen in New England in the US, where it picked up in popularity.

The game has been labelled the unofficial game of submariners and is popular in the US Navy. The wardroom of the oldest active submarine in the United States Pacific Fleet carries on board the personal cribbage board of World War II submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient, Rear Admiral Dick O'Kane, and upon the boat's decommissioning, the board is transferred to the next oldest boat.

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