The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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THE TOTUM                                  303
this well-known toy takes us back to the serious rites of ancient religions.
Brady's Clavis Calendaria, i. 209, mentions the discontinued custom of whipping tops on Shrove Tuesday as originating in the Popish Carnival as types of the rigour of Church discipline.
It is not improbable that the tee-totum is the earliest form of top, and as its use is for gambling, it is probable that this and the top were formerly used for purposes of divination.
See " Gully," " Hoatie," " Hoges," " Peg Top," " Peg in the Ring," " Scurran-Meggy," "Totum."
The Totum, or Tee-to-tum
The Totum is really only a top to spin by hand. It is made of a square piece of wood or bone, the four sides being each marked with a letter, and the peg is put through a hole in the centre. Sometimes the totum is shaped to a point on the under side, and a pin fixed in the upper part, by which it is twirled round.
The game played is one of chance; it may be played by two or more, either boys or girls, and is played only at Christmas. In Keith the letters are A, N, D, T. In playing the stake is one pin, and each plays in turn. If the side with A on it falls upper­most the player wins the whole stake—"A, tack a'." If N turns up the player gets nothing—" N, nikil (nihil), nothing." If T turns up one pin falls to the player—" T, tack ane." If D comes uppermost the player has to lay down a pin—" D, dossie doon." At times the game was played by paying a stake to all the letters except A, and the words used were—" D, dip it," "T, tip it," and "N, nip it."—Keith (Rev. W. Gregor).
We played the game when children usually at Christmas time. The players sat round a table. A pool was made, each player putting in the same amount of stakes, either pins, counters, nuts, or money. One player collected the pool and then spun the tee-totum by his fingers. Whichever letter was uppermost when it stopped, the player had to obey.
T, was take all (the contents of the pool).
H, half the contents.
N, nothing.

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