3 Bagatelle


Bagatelle (from the Château de Bagatelle) is an indoor table game related to billiards, the object of which is to get a number of balls (set at nine in the nineteenth century) past pins (which act as obstacles) into holes. It probably developed from the table made with raised sides for trou madame, which was also played with ivory balls (Gloag 1969 illustrates a London design that was current in 1782) and continued popular into the later nineteenth century. Bagatelle is a precursor of the pinball machine (which is also descended from pachinko), and laterally related to miniature golf.

The game bagatelle evolved from efforts to bring outdoor games, such as croquet and shuffleboard, inside and atop tables. History records the existence of table-based games back to the 15th Century, and a 17th-century table is preserved in the Great Hall at Hatfield House. While some games took the wickets croquet and turned them into the side-rail pockets of modern pocket billiards, some tables became smaller and had the holes placed in strategic areas in the middle of the table.

In France, during the reign of King Louis XIV, someone took a billiard table and narrowed it, placing the pins at one end of the table while making the player shoot balls with a stick or cue from the other end. Pins took too long to reset when knocked down, so the pins eventually became fixed to the table and holes took the place of targets. Players could ricochet the ball off the pins to achieve the harder, higher-scoring holes.

In 1777 a party was thrown in honor of the Louis XVI and the Queen at the Château de Bagatelle, recently erected at great expense by the king's brother, the Count of Artois. "Bagatelle" from Italian "bagattella", signifies a trifle, a decorative thing. The highlight of the party was a new table game featuring the slender table and cue sticks, which players used to shoot ivory balls up an inclined playfield. The table game was dubbed "Bagatelle" by the Count and shortly after swept through France.

"Bagatelle" in this sense made its debut in English in 1819 ("OED"), its dimensions soon standardised at 7 feet by 21 inches (GLoag 1969). Bagatelle spread and became so popular in America as well that a political cartoon from 1863 depicts President Abraham Lincoln playing a tabletop bagatelle game.

The "Price Is Right" TV gameshow sub-game "Plinko", although its name might suggest that it was based on pachinko, bears more resemblance to bagatelle.

ee also

*Pub games


*John Gloag, 1969. "A Short Dictionary of Furniture", "Troumadam" (London: Allen & Unwin)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bagatelle — [ bagatɛl ] n. f. • 1547; it. bagatella « tour de bateleur »; du lat. baca « baie » 1 ♦ Vx Objet de peu de valeur et de peu d utilité. ⇒ bibelot. « de la croisée, deux étagères montrent leurs mille bagatelles précieuses » (Balzac). ♢ Mod. Somme d …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Bagatelle — ist die Bezeichnung für: Bagatelle (Musik), bezeichnet in der Musik ein kurzes Musikstück Davon abgeleitet ist ein Bagatelldelikt eine Straftat von geringer Bedeutung Bagatellgrenze, in der Wirtschaft eine Grenze für Kleinbeträge Parc de… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • bagatelle — BAGATELLE. s. f. Chose de peu de prix, et peu nécessaire. Cette boutique n est pleine que de bagatelles. Dans ce cabinet, il n y a que des bagatelles. f♛/b] Il signifie figurément, et c est son plus grand usage, Chose frivole et de peu d… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • bagatelle — BAGATELLE. s. f. Chose de peu de prix & peu necessaire. Boutique, cabinet plein de bagatelles. Bagatelle, Se dit absolument, pour signifier qu on ne croit pas quelque chose, & que l on ne la craint point. Vous dites que cet homme fera telle chose …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Bagatelle — Sf Kleinigkeit erw. fremd. Erkennbar fremd (17. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. bagatelle, dieses aus it. bagatella, einem Diminutivum zu l. bāca Beere . Von kleine Beere aus verallgemeinert zu eine Kleinigkeit (vgl. den Gebrauch von ne.… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • bagatelle — 1630s, a trifle, from Fr. bagatelle knicknack, bauble, trinket (16c.), from It. bagatella a trifle, dim. of L. baca berry. As a piece of light music, it is attested from 1827 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Bagatelle — »unbedeutende Kleinigkeit«: Das Fremdwort wurde Anfang des 17. Jh.s aus frz. bagatelle entlehnt, das seinerseits aus gleichbed. it. bagatella übernommen ist. Dies ist eine Verkleinerungsbildung zu lat. baca »Beere«, das wohl aus einer voridg.… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Bagatelle — führt zur Hölle. Es ist gefährlich, etwas für Kleinigkeit zu betrachten. [Zusätze und Ergänzungen] *2. Es ist eine Bagatelle für einen Kurfürsten. (Köthen.) …   Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon

  • Bagatelle — Bag a*telle (b[a^]g [.a]*t[e^]l ), n. [F., fr. It. bagatella; cf. Prov. It. bagata trifle, OF. bague, Pr. bagua, bundle. See {Bag}, n.] 1. A trifle; a thing of no importance. [1913 Webster] Rich trifles, serious bagatelles. Prior. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bagatelle — (fr., spr. Bagatell, v. ital. Bagatino, s.d.), 1) Kleinigkeit, Tand; 2) Nebensache. Daher 3) Lustschloß im Boulogner Wald bei Paris, ward 1782 vom Grafen von Artois (später Karl X.) gebaut; es war Eigenthum u. Lieblingsaufenthalt der Herzogin v.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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