Wessmann Game Counter, U.S. Patent Office Model

This U.S. patent model for a board for keeping score in the game of cribbage has a wooden base, with six small brass plates attached along each of the sides. Each plate has two rows of five holes. These two sets of sixty holes are used for keeping score in a single game between two players.
At each end of the base is a smaller plate with four holes. These holes might be used in keeping track of game points in a match of five games. Four brass pins that fit in the holes in the plates are stored behind the brass plates at each end of the base.
At the center are two discs, which represent the patented part of the board. One is numbered clockwise from 0 to 9, the other is numbered counterclockwise. Both rotate counterclockwise. A brass pointer reaches across both discs to point to a digit on each one. The discs are used to keep track of games won. One is probably mounted incorrectly.
Charles B. Wessmann of Newbridge, N.J., patented the invention. U.S. Census records do not list someone by that name living in New Jersey near the time of the patent. There was a Charles B. Wessmann (1843-1888) who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., lived there for much of his life, and worked as a brass finisher. He committed suicide May 31, 1888. Whether this is the same Charles B. Wessmann who took out the patent is unclear.
Charles B. Wessmann, “Improvement in Game-Counters,” U.S. Patent 204404, May 28, 1878. The patent shows both number wheels mounted with digits increasing clockwise.
New York Times, June 1, 1888, p. 1.
U.S. Census records for 1880.
Currently not on view
Object Name
game counter
date made
Wessmann, Charles B.
Wessmann, Charles B.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 3 cm x 30 cm x 8.5 cm; 1 3/16 in x 11 13/16 in x 3 11/32 in
place made
United States: New Jersey, Newbridge
place patented
United States: New Jersey, Newbridge
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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