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Spinning top

Spinning top

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (made)

  • Date:

    1700-1799 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and silver filigree

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This little spinning top was made for use in games of chance. The player spun the top and the letter on the uppermost side when it came to rest dictated what action to take. The letters used vary from country to country, but generally included ‘T’ for totum, as here, which allowed the player to take the whole jackpot. This Latin word provided the usual British name for the object: teetotum.

Teetotums were usually made of ivory or wood in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the game was most popular. This example may have been made in the Netherlands, as it has a Dutch census mark from the early 19th century. The game was common in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as Britain.

Physical description

Tiny silver filigree spinning top, consisting of a six-sided box with slightly sloping sides with a central rod running vertically through its centre. There is a different silver letter applied to each of the six sides: ‘T’, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘D’, ‘S’, and ‘N’.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (made)


1700-1799 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silver and silver filigree

Marks and inscriptions

Letter 'O' with crown above.
Duty mark used on old pieces, Kingdom of Holland, 1807-1812.
On upper part of rod.

Descriptive line

Tiny six-sided silver filigree spinning top (teetotum) with letters on each side, Netherlands, 1700-1799.






Metalwork; Games


Metalwork Collection

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