Cup and ball; Early 19th century; XEC.782


Cup and ball

About this object

Ball and cup games were, and continue to be, a popular children’s toy. This example consists of an ivory ball attached by a string to a turned shaft on a cupped stand.

The secret of success in this game is given by Reverend J. G. Wood in his book, ‘Boy’s Modern Playmate’ (1870): “The learner should begin with catching the ball in the cup. He should take the stem by the middle. The ball should be thrown upwards by a slight jerk of the wrist, not the whole arm; and, if properly done, it falls of its own accord into the cup. … The next feature is to swing the ball into the cup. … A good player should be able to catch the ball in the cup with his eyes shut. …” (1)

It is believed that this cup and ball toy belonged to Reverend Vicesimus Lush who was born in London, England, on 27 August 1817 to Charles Lush and Charlotte Amos. His parents chose to give him the unusual name of Vicesimus (Latin for “twentieth) because he was his father’s twentieth surviving child.

On 5 May 1842, Vicesimus married Blanche Hawkins and they eventually had nine children, four of whom died of scarlet fever. Vicesimus was an Anglican minister and in 1850 he left England for New Zealand with his family and became the vicar at Howick, Auckland. According to Gillian Nelson, Vicesimus was “a loving father, caring husband and highly regarded priest,” he was “remembered for his hard work and devotion” as well as his “physical legacy in the churches and houses he built and the copious journals he wrote.” (2) It is likely that Vicesimus’s nine children played with this cup and ball toy, which would have provided them with hours of enjoyment.

(1) Iona and Robert Opie and Robert Alderson, ‘The Treasures of childhood: Books, toys and games from the Opie Collection,’ 1995.
(2) Gillian Nelson, ‘”In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”: Vicesimus Lush and his journals, 1850-1882,’ Master’s thesis Victoria University of Wellington, 2012, p. 6.

For more information about the Lush family and Ewelme Cottage, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.

Date Made

Early 19th century

Medium and Materials

Ivory and string



Subject and Association Keywords


Credit Line

Collection of Ewelme Cottage, Heritage New Zealand Historic Pouhere Taonga

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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