The origins of the name are unknown. It was probably invented in Oberammergau in the 1780s and later found favour in many Alpine regions, but also as far as Alsace. As a rule, sets were made of carved and painted wood.
The game was played by dropping a small ball onto the spiral chute in the hollow figure on the edge, often depicting an oriental or Indian, wearing a turban. The ball rolls down the chute and lands in one of the numbered wells in the wooden base.
Whether it was originally intended as a children’s toy is not known, but the Kakelorum certainly established itself as a means of gambling. Punters could try to predict the landing point of the ball, not unlike roulette. Its use was so widespread in the mid-19th century that it was sometimes prohibited by the authorities.
Today’s collectors have nothing to fear; they are, however, expected to put up at least €390 in the auction on June 23-26.