August 17, 2009

The shell game

(click image to enlarge)
Two shell men along the Alaskan trails, circa 1897-1898.

The above photograph comes from the Vogee collection of the Yukon Archives, showing two operators of the shell and pea bunco game during the Klondike gold rush, probably along either the Chilkoot or White Pass trails close to Skagway and Soapy Smith's protection. It is certain that some, if not a majority of the men in the photograph are steerers and shills working for the gang. Very few shell men operated without assistants as shills or strong-arms in the event of trouble. None of the men are recognized by me as members of the Soap Gang but most likely are. Note the armory of rifles.

Close-up of the shell men

lthough the old shell and pea game is clearly a swindle, the operators honestly believed they were not doing anything so wrong. That if a mark was dumb enough to play another man's game then they had the right to take their money. The main website has The shell game that you can play. Don't worry it is an honest one, which is something you won't find on the street.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comment and/or question on my blog. I always read, and will answer all questions left here. Please know that they are greatly appreciated. -Jeff Smith