Every Christmas, without fail, ever since I was a boy. at some point, the Spinning Top is out of the cupboard the table is covered in loose change and an hour or so is spent putting and taking.
Said to have been ‘invented’ as a game during the first world war, the dreidel, or spinning top is used to determine whether you put coins into the pot or take them out.
that said, similar devices can be traced back to 16th Century Germany, as well as Ancient Greece and Rome, as detailed on the Antique Gambling Chips website (extracted below) All I know is that it’s fun and the kids enjoy it too.
Origins and brief history. Put and Take is one of many forms of Teetotums (any gaming spinning top). The Teetotums were known in ancient Greece, and the Dreidel (put and take instructions on the four-sided spinner) was developed in 16th century Germany. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica article on teetotums, “the hexagonal (six-sided) teetotum was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans.” The earliest teetotums were used as a substitute for dice, especially useful in board games. Put & Take tops, like the standard brass one pictured just above, originated in America and were very popular from the early 20th century to about the 1940’s. They could be carried in ones pocket and used anytime in a bar, army barracks or other gathering place for an impromptu gambling session. Each player would contribute chips, coins or currency to a pot. One dictionary gives 1920-25 as the period for the origin of the term “put and take.” An Australian gambling-related web site says, “the Western world’s game of put-and-take [is] rarely encountered since the 1930s. … I suspect that the reason for the … disappearance … from the English and American gambling scene is that too many loaded tops were being used. In other words, there was a great deal too much putting by novices and taking by cheats.” So the heyday of Put and Takes was the 1920s and 30s. There is the 1921 silent movie “Put and Take”, a 1921 “Put and Take” Broadway show and song, at least five American patents regarding Put and Take taken out between 1920 and 1940, and even a 1929 “Put and Take” jazz swing composition. (Today, there is a casino game “Put and Take” that uses playing cards instead of a spinner!. Today, there are also grifters hustling people with crooked Put & Take dice. And of course, there are virtual Put & Take aps where you can design your own game. Now-a-days there are too many manifestations of Put & Takes games and rules to mention on this page, which is dedicated to vintage items.)