Fish counters from the Ballam Collection
It is often difficult to establish the context of games, especially when the rules have not survived with the game. The John Johnson Collection includes some rules, with and without the corresponding games and also trade cards and advertisements which show how games were marketed alongside books and other products. This rare information is invaluable to historians of material culture.
Trade cards in the John Johnson Collection have been indexed in considerable detail. Notably, all trades and products are catalogued (select the subject/ products/ trades from the scrollbar). The Indoor Games boxes, which include rules of games, have been indexed (but not catalogued).
Prospectuses of books also contain references to games.
Typically, games were played with a teetotum and counters. Dice were associated with gambling, so rarely used for children's games. Games could be bought without these generic pieces and therefore boxes rarely contain space for them. The game Historical Tetotums is an exception. Conversely, teetotums could be purchased separately (as in the upper example).
Top: Tetotum in box, with 'B[ritish] sovereigns in Mss on label. Ballam Collection: 1840s (4)
Bottom: Ballam Collection: 1850s (8)