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Aunt Sally

Aunt Sally


From the middle of the nineteenth century, Aunt Sally was a popular game at the fairgrounds and racetracks of Britain.The head of an old woman with a clay pipe in her mouth was set up and players threw sticks at it to try and break the pipe.There are numerous possible origins for the game.
The Aunt part of the name probably means an old black woman, employed in the USA from the eighteenth century onwards.
A childrens anti-slavery book called Aunt Sally: or, The Cross the Way of Freedom was produced by the American Reform Tract and Book Society,Cincinnati, Ohio , in 1858. The book is a true account of the Slave-life and Purchase of a slave called Aunt Sally .
Aunt could also be applied to any elderly woman.
There was a popular black-faced doll in the 1820s, also called Aunt Sally which may have had a direct influence on the game.
The phrase Aunt Sally eventually became a term, still used today, for somebody or something that is an easy target for attack or criticism.
The game Aunt Sally is still popular in some public houses in Britain today. Instead of knocking a pipe out of an old woman’s mouth, players try to knock a Dolly (skittle) off a pole by throwing batons (sticks of wood) at it.

Date: 19th century

Copyright: Copyright BCC Museum

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