Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Antique JAJ Chemin de Fer Dealing Shoe

JAJ from Paris was a leading European maker of gaming equipment, back in the early 1900s. To this day I do not know what JAJ stands for, but I'm pretty sure that one of the letters J must stand for "jeux," which is the French word for games. The last letter J is usually flipped, so that the abbreviation JAJ becomes symmetrical. This often confuses people into thinking that the last letter is an L. I have often seen JAJ equipment listed as JAL, in several auction catalogs. But since I've seen one of their products labeled "JAJ Paris" where the last J was not flipped, I think it's pretty safe to assume that the last letter was in fact a flipped J, and not a stylized L.

The company made various kinds of gaming equipment, such as dealing shoes, roulette wheels and wheels for the gambling game la boule, one of the lesser known versions of roulette. It also made chess and backgammon sets, lottery equipment and various dice games, as well as some odd games played with figurines of horses and rabbits.

I have several JAJ dealing shoes in my collection. Here is a picture of one shoe that was probably a lower-end model.

Antique JAJ Chemin de Fer Casino Dealing Shoe
This dealing shoe has a wooden shell, a wooden ramp, a wooden faceplate and a bakelite lid. Unfortunately, the shoe is missing the weighted roller, but the shoe is otherwise in great condition. I bought this shoe from an antique dealer in France, who believes the shoe is from the 1930s. I don't know how he knows that, but it sounds about right to me, so I believe it's been, more or less, correctly dated. Since the shoe doesn't really have obvious signs of use, I don't believe it was ever used in a casino.

I don't know what else to say about this shoe, except perhaps that this shoe is made for the game chemin de fer, which is a version of baccarat. Chemin shoes usually have a small plaque, at the side, which displays rules for drawing or standing. Most chemin shoes also have a handle and a lid.


J. Canetta said...

I have a J.A.J. roulette wheel and a catalog, titled Rule of the Game, in it there is a photo of a what is called a dealing apparatus called a "sabot" it says it is used in casions or clubs for baccara. It appears to be identical to the one in your photo. JC

Mr. Pink said...

Sabot is the French word for dealing shoe. The word actually means clog, as in wooden clogs one wears on his feet. In many other languages, where it might sound really awkward to use the word shoe for game equipment, they've simply adopted the French word sabot. I've even seen the word sabot used in some older English language books.

Does your JAJ catalog say what JAJ stands for?

John C. said...

No, the 8 page catalog just uses J.A.J. a couple of times referring to games, like roulette, or gaming tables, such as billiard tables. On the bottom of the base of the roulette wheel I have are 4 numbers and "Made in France", on the bottom of the metal wheel is stamped J A L and Made in France.