MINIATURE 1810 POW (PRISONER OF WAR) BONE SPINNING TOP, DICE
This lovely, miniature (3 cms long) bone, hexagonal (6-sided) spinning dice was made by an French prisoner of war (POW) from the Napoleonic wars with the English in the late 18tth and early 19th century.
Between 1793 and 1815 approximately one-quarter of a million French prisoners of war were held in Britain. At Chatham between 1803 and 1814 there were approximately 90,000; at Plymouth between 1793 and 1814, about 175,000; and at Portsmouth for the same period, approximately 360,000.
These prisoners were set to work, doing tasks such as dry-stone walling. In their spare time (such as it was) they made items to sell to the guards to pay for things such as tobacco. Many of these were gaming or novelty items made from the bones of the mutton they were fed.
Hence this beautiful little spinning dice. It spins beautifully, but the design is also interesting. Just a simple horizontal gouge to the top and bottom of each ridge to the facias, coloured in with red dye, gives it a pleasing aesthetic quality, adding to the functional.