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In 1889 Henry Haskell, a Sunday School teacher, was concerned about the growing number of boys who were hanging around pool rooms. He decided to use his clever and inventive mind to create games for the boys would be wholesome and enjoyable. Carrom has been providing family entertainment for all ages ever since. Some games tested your skills or used strategy, other games were just for fun.
The Carrom Company went through various name changes through the years (it was originally the Ludington Novelty Company until 1901), but today is known as the Carrom Company, just as it was known from 1914-1939.
The original Carrom game tables were table top games. They were usually made of wood, about 30" square which often had rounded corners and some with pockets in each corner for various games. Different game patterns were featured on each side.
Here is a brief look at the Carrom game boards manufactured up until 1945.
A - The most beautiful and elegant board ever made, produced without change from about 1902 until 1941.
B - "4-surface board" with removable panel, 1902-1939.
BB - Baseball/Crokinole, 1938 - 1941.
C - "Crown Combination" w/ Spider and Flies game, 1899-1943.
D - No. 2 - "Flags of the Nations", 1902-1941.
E - No. 1 - A hugely popular board, 1899-1939, painted red and black with a 1-1/2" thick rim; rare very early editions in red and green. Replaced by the "Q" style in 1934 but was briefly reintroduced from 1937 until 1939 with a 1-1/4" rim.
F - Austere (economical) version of the "A", 1901-1938. Probably second to the "E" in popularity.
G - No. 2 - 1901 until around 1930, a much-improved edition of Ludington Novelty Co.'s first board which had wooden pockets. Rare early editions came in red and green. All others are red and black.
GP - mid-1940s, called "Carrom-Checkers", an unusual variant carrying the old "E" Checker design on one side and the "C" Spider & Flies on the other. 29" square.
H - Octagonal Crokinole board, 1900 to 1936; 1904 catalog shows H-1, 29" across; H-2, 31"; H-3 exactly like H-2 but with green felt in ditch; several other varieties exist.
H-4 - Sharp-square-cornered 28-1/2" board, 1937-1939, maybe 1940; very scarce for an inexpensive board.
J - Elaborate baseball board produced from about 1908; still present in a 1927 catalog. Very scarce.
K - 1939 -1941 Carrom "Viking" edition with Chinese Checkers on reverse. No marbles - a flat playing surface with lots of little wooden markers.
LF - 1938 - 1939 baseball board honoring Lew Fonseca, baseball celebrity 1920s & 1930s; other side of board is blank. Game identical to the "BB".
O - Late 1930s Carrom game tables, called the Carrom-Backgammon board. The Carrom/Checkers side is exactly like the corresponding side of the "E", and the opposite side carries nothing more than a full-size Backgammon pattern in red and black.
P - "Carrom-Pleasure", late 1930s, 24" board; one side carried the Spider & Flies game and the other side carried the old game of Fox & Geese.
Q - The "Viking" board, introduced in 1934 as replacement for the "E". Disappeared about 1947.
QS - 1944 (only?), identical to "Q" but "finished in brown stain" according to ads, (wartime wood supply problems).
SP - "Sport board", 1939-1941, baseball like "BB", football on other side, hard-to-find.
T - "Carrom-Tennis", 1940-1943, 168 playing pieces, the 5-Surface board, the designers at Carrom Industries really had a ball with this fun edition, very scarce.
X - Late 1930s, called the "Cadet".
Y - 24" "Playboy" board introduced 1935; one could call it a more austere and smaller predecessor of the "GP"
YP - Identical to the "Y", wartime edition made of composition-board.
Carrom still makes some classic games, but have also evolved with the times by introducing the popular games of today. Some of the Carrom game tables that are popular in family rooms across the country include air hockey, stick hockey and foosball.
So, whether you like the classic games, or the modern Carrom game table games, you can't go wrong with a Carrom game, it is always great to see an all American company with a great and long history like the Carrom Company.
MJ owns Blue Summit Articles and is a freelance writer for Click Shops, Inc., which offers a great selection of Carrom game tables at www.gametables.us.com.