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The History of Jacks

Jacks are one of the oldest and most widespread toys in the world. Archeologists have found evidence of early jacks in ancient Egyptian murals. Archeologists also believe that even Cro-Magnon parents may have encouraged their children to play a primitive version of jacks on cave floors to increase hand-eye coordination! It’s thought that ancient Egyptian children played a game very similar to jacks called “knucklebones” with sheep toe bones that eventually evolved into jacks. While this surprisingly ubiquitous and longstanding game has many names, such as Iguni, Abhadho, Cincos Marias, or Huripapa, all versions generally share the same gameplay: tossing a ball in the air and scooping up objects (beans, rocks, stones, bones, or man-metallic pieces, depending on the time period and culture) before the bounce. In modern times, especially in America, kids typically use metallic pieces and a rubber ball to play. Classic American versions of jacks include Eggs in the Basket, Pigs in the Pen, Jacks on the Rooftop, Five Finger, and Challenge. While the game is less popular today than it once was, many toy shops still sell jacks.

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