France: Ca. 1900. An exceptionally rare and unusual French children's game using small metal boomerangs to knock down pins with an unusual launching apparatus. The game was manufactured in France, most likely for the British market around 1900. The title on the cover reads- "Boomerang. Breveté S.G.D.G. A C". The initials "S.G.D.G." are an abbreviation of "sans garantie du gouvernement" meaning it is sold without government guarantee and is a legal phrase under the patent law. There is nothing else marked that might indicate the maker.
It is housed in its original box, covered with decorative brown paper imitating crocodile skin, a metal handle on the side, and the titles printed in silver in an Art Nouveau style. The object of the game is to launch the boomerangs at the painted wooden pins that can be set up in the lid of the opened box. The box lid is lined with green napped fabric with the triangular position of the pins marked, somewhat akin to bowling. There are 14 pins, with painted bands, about 2" tall, with the 15th pin missing. The base of the box accommodates the launcher, a small fixed box with sliding drawer titled "Boomerang", perhaps to hold the boomerangs. It is also mounted with a series of red cords fixed to the base, but it's unknown what these are meant to hold. The box measures 12 x 8 ¾ x 2 3/8". There are 6 tin-like small boomerangs, measuring just over 2". (One appears to be a reproduction.)
Most unusual is the launching mechanism for the boomerangs. It is made of a turned wooden base with metal workings above. The instrument is 7 ½ " tall and 5 ¾" wide. It's screwed on a fine wood turned base of 2 ¾" diameter. It launcher is powerful, launching the boomerangs about 5-6 feet. The probability of the boomerangs knocking over the pins is negligible, but perfectly poised to poke a child in the eye. It therefore cannot have been a very successful game, further pointing to its rarity.
We have been unable to locate another copy - it is likely the only known copy in the world. It is not located on Trove or in the National Library of Australia. We purchased it from a continental dealer who stated that he had bought it years ago from a French leading expert of antique games and toys. He had said that this was the only known copy in the world. Of course, this is difficult to prove, but indicates the rarity in the eyes of the French expert.
The box in good working order, slightly rubbed at the leading edges. There is a small circle of wood broken into 3 pieces, detached from the mechanism of the instrument, which does not affect the operating and easily glued.
An example of how Australian aboriginal culture entered into the popular culture around the world. Item #24935