an odd patent

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue Nov 26 01:09:47 UTC 2002

In a message dated 11/25/2002 3:11:08 PM Eastern Standard Time,
george.thompson at NYU.EDU writes:

>  two boxes for dealing cards at the Pharo bank.  [One of the pharo boxes is
> said to be the invention of] the noted gambler Baily, who had a patent for
> the same, from the patent office of the United States.  ***  We have heard
> many patents . . . , but this is the first time we have heard of a patent
> an improvement in the art of swindling

Unfortunately a fire on the night of December 14-15, 1836, destroyed the
Patent Office, with the result that many patents issued before the fire are
no longer extant.

Does the quotation say that this particular patented Pharo box is designed
for the purpose of cheating at Pharo?  (analogous to a patent on a new way of
marking cards?)  Or is the writer considering the game of Pharo to be
dishonest (as is 3-card monte, which is rarely if ever played honestly)?

Interesting spelling of "Pharo".  In Wild West days it seems to have been
invariably spelled "faro", and it is said that the name was inspired by the
Egyptian scenes on the back of 19th Century playing cards, which would imply
the Biblical spelling "Pharaoh".  (I have no idea if this is a correct
etymology or an etymythology).

      - Jim Landau

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