Floral Loto - A New Round Game by Jaques & Son c1870
Updated: Sep 27
Floral Loto is an intelligent game that rewards horticultural knowledge and mixes gambling with education. Produced by the great London game maker Jaques & Son of Hatton Garden this luxurious game has only a superficial similarity to modern Bingo.
The game was packaged not in cardboard but in a beautiful mahogany box.
Floral Loto, Jaques & Son - Box Lid
Inside the box are 120 individual, oval shaped, flower cards with blue backs.
There are also 12 large numbered game cards with pink backs. Each large game card has full colour illustrations of 10 different flowers.
The rules are similar to bingo but in order to be successful a player must be able to recognise and identify each flower in three different ways. Each flower card give the common English name, the Latin name and the "Emblematic Sentiment" associated with the flower.
The game begins with each player being issued with 3 dozen counters. Counters for games and gaming were typically purchased separately and often made from bone.
An agreed number of counters are then placed into the pool by players.
Next a non-playing Umpire is appointed. This person will retain sole possession of the all important "Key to the Flowers" - a printed list of all the flowers on each card, by Common Name, Botanical Name and Emblematic Sentiment.
The oval cards are placed into a bag or face down on the table and shuffled. The large cards are shuffled and then dealt one each to the players. If any large cards are leftover these are auctioned with the proceeds being added to the pool.
The play begins with the player to the left of the dealer drawing an oval card and reading out the common name. If a player has the flower on of their large cards they claim the oval card and use it to cover the corresponding flower. Play continues around the table to the left with each player drawing and reading a card in turn.
When a player completes a full horizontal line on a card they can claim half of the pool.
Play is scrutinised at all times by the Umpire. Should a player mistakenly claim a flower or place it incorrectly then that player pays a forfeit to the pool.
Play continues until one player has a full card, that player can then claim the other half of the pool plus any forfeits that have been paid into it.
Other forfeits are payable for failing to claim a flower or having less than five flowers covered on a card at the end of play. A player who refers to the "Key to the Flowers" at any stage of the game forfeits all claims to victory (and likely all claims to an inheritance).
When regular players are familiar with the common names of each flower the game can be played by reading out the botanical name or the emblematic sentiment instead.
So after a Winter's worth of family play one could expect one's offspring or charges to be able to first identify by sight and then name, in any of three different ways, 120 flowers. This was an expensive family game beyond the reach of most people, even so I find the concept admirable.
I wonder how many children or adults today would be able to identify even a small fraction of these flowers by any name?
This style of learning is unfashionable but it is very effective and a child's brain is particularly adept at absorbing information in this enjoyable way. In my experience learning can be further accelerated by substituting coins or sweets for bone counters.
Below are the other 11 cards and the corresponding flower cards. The game is a very rare one and not commonly documented on the net. To see a scan of the original rules follow this link.
Click on any of the cards to view them in a larger format.