Bagatelle games come in multiple forms and evolved from Old English Bagatelle through pin bagatelle, which was invented in Victorian times to Pinball. We have a range of Bagatelle games and good knowledge of the game.
200-300 years ago Bagatelle was played on large slate-bed tables of a similar size to Snooker or Billiards. Old English Bagatelle can still be found as a rare pub game in a couple of English towns. Bagatelle became hugely popular and during the 1880s, a parlour version of the game, pin bagatelle evolved which is still enjoyed today. Masters Traditional Games offers several quality versions of this engrossing and entertaining game.
Stunning hand-made Bagatelle with cue
Stunning hand-made Bagatelle with plunger
Spare steel balls for Bagatelle games in 2 sizes
Cue for Pin bagatelle. Can be used as an alternative for bagatelles with a plunger.
Sprung pin - special spring nail for Parlour Bagatelle games
There are two main forms of the game - the original slate bed tables - 8 or 10 feet long, as pictured to the right. These are similar in quality and structure to Snooker and Billiard tables. Then there are the old Victorian folding style boards as pictured to below right. These are generally smaller but range from 4 - 9 feet when open.
Regrettably, we don't believe that any manufacturer makes any form of Old English Bagatelle any longer although Thurston produced free-standing Bagatelle tables until the 1990s.
If you are interested in re-conditioning one of these games yourself, please read our Bagatelle Reconditioning FAQ.
The original game of bagatelle was and is a pub game of skill that is closely related to the games of Billiards, Pool and Snooker. A competition bagatelle table is of a similar form to a Billiards table, slate bed, cloth covered with cushions and measuring 6 - 10 feet long and 2 - 3 feet wide. The first major difference from a billiard table is that one end is rounded instead of square. The second diversion is that instead of pockets around the edge, the semi-circular end features nine holes (in the manner of Bar Billiards), one in the middle of the semi circle and the rest surrounding it evenly in a ring. A variety of games can be played with it but all involve the players standing at the square end of the table and hitting the balls with a cue towards the holes at the other end. The origins of bagatelle are even less clear than most games of a similar history although, since the name is a French one, the most obvious guess is a French derivation. From 1770 to 1850, it seems that the bagatelle was just as popular as Billiards throughout England and Britain. To add to the mystery further, the French version of his catalogue refers to the game as "Billiards Anglais".... In the mid 19th century, bagatelle joined the long list of restricted and banned games when a Gaming Act decreed that there should be "no play on a public billiard table or bagatelle table from 1 am to 8 am and on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday".
These days, the name bagatelle is far more likely to conjure up the image of the children's pastime wherein marbles or ball bearings are shot onto a board which features areas fenced in by nails hammered into its surface. Each container scores different points depending upon the likelihood of a ball finishing in it. An entertaining game, generally considered to be for children, the resemblance to the original pub game is not overwhelming. This smaller version began to appear in the late 19th century. The similarities are that the players shoot balls from the square end of the board towards the semi-circular end of the board with the objective of getting the balls to land in scoring holes and areas on the board surface. However, the whole board has been miniaturised to a table-top size. Presumably because aiming the balls was too difficult for youngsters, the balls are run up a channel on the right hand side instead of needing to be aimed. The targets are enlarged by virtue of surrounding nails. And the elements of skill have generally been almost replaced by that of luck. No points are scored if the balls roll right back down to the bottom edge of the board. Early boards all required the balls to be struck up the channel by a cue in the same way as for the adult game. Modern games usually feature a sprung plunger as an alternative or a replacement to the more traditional stick.
Of course, as many readers will have realised, the evolution of the game did not stop at here because children's bagatelle has two children of it's own - pinball and pachinko in all their myriad forms. Even though the success of these modern electronic forms has eclipsed the old games, most people will find the original games to be an experience just as rewarding....