PINBALL BACKGLASS HISTORY
Pinball developed out of a marble game popular in France during the reign of Louis XIV. The French game was called Bagatelle, named after Castle Bagatelle, the palace of King Louis' younger brother Duke Arthur, an inveterate gambler and gamer. Bagatelle used a wooden game board with holes in it. Players pushed small balls along the board using a stick, which resembled a miniature pool cue. Players scored if their ball dropped into a hole, though the ball had to negotiate nails driven into the board as obstacles. Bagatelle was extremely popular in sophisticated circles in France by the 1780s. French soldiers brought the game to the United States during the colonies' war for independence, and it spread across America wherever military men were posted.
In England, the game of Bagatelle is mentioned in Charles Dickens' the Pick Wick Papers of 1836,
where characters play the game at a table installed in the back of a tavern. Full-size games
were common across
Europe and the United
States by the 1830s,
as entertainment in
taverns, inns, and
stagecoach stops. These games
were about the size of a modern
pool table. Due to its popularity, man-
ufacturers also began to produce
smaller table-top versions as toys
for children around this time. By the
1880s, both adult and children's
versions of Bagatelle games were
found around the world. Different arrangements of playing fields were
given names like Chinese Bagatelle
and Russian Bagatelle, and other
popular versions were called
Cockamaroo and Tivoli.
As an aside, no pinball event since the New
York City attack in 1942 destroyed more pinball
backglass except for inadequate shipping.
How long did this absurd moral panic endure?
Pinball was banned in New York until 1976!
Here's Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in action >>>>