The works of the ethnographer Stewart Culin are amongst the most important sources of information on games played by the Native Americans, in Korea, Hawaii, and in the Philippines and amongst Chinese immigrants in the US.

Many of his works are easy to find; some of the shorter ones can be read on the website of the Elliott Evedon Museum of Games in Ontario, and modern publishers have recently reprinted both Korean Games: With Notes On The Corresponding Games Of China And Japan (1895) and Games of the North American Indians (1907)

One work, however, has always proved difficult to find either in printed form or on the internet.

The 1896 Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, otherwise known as the Annual Report of the U.S. National Museum (1896), contains a 237 page paper by Culin entitled ‘Chess and Playing-cards’.

This paper, although nominally about chess and playing cards actually contains some of the earliest information on games such as Nyout, Zohn Ahl, Tab, Asian backgammon games, various Pachisi variants, Asian chess variants, Go, Fox and Geese and Tiger Games.

Where original copies can be tracked down they very expensive (some booksellers quote prices of around €250 ($360). Even the 1976 reprint can cost €70.

However the paper can be found on the internet here. It is a large file, though, so be prepared, and Culin’s paper only starts on page 665, but it is an essential part of any games library.

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