Cribbage Board

Cribbage was a popular game amongst early explorers and whalers.

Written by Amelia Fay

Posted January 3, 2019

Cribbage was a popular game amongst early explorers and whalers, and it was quickly introduced to the Inuit through trade-related interactions. The HBC Museum Collection has several cribbage boards made from walrus tusks that were likely produced specifically for trade or as souvenirs.

Unfortunately, we do not know who made this early twentieth-century cribbage board, nor even the community the artist was from. The designs have been scrimshawed into the ivory by incising designs and filling them with ink.

Some of the cribbage boards in the collection were made by Europeans, but this one has a distinctive Inuit flair. The scenes depict hunting, travelling by dog team, boat, and kayak, and what appear to be trading posts or European-Canadian encampments.

Amelia Fay is the curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the February-March 2019 issue of Canada’s History.

Related to Fur Trade