In the spring of 2009 we decided to make our own reproduction FOUR DIAL GAME COUNTERS or NORFOLK LIAR, so we started from scratch and the first Game Counters made in the UK for at least 50 years were produced in the winter of 2010. Frank MacIlroy made them and what a beautiful job he has made, I am sure that if Dixons and Hawksley had had access to laser cutting and CNC machinery then they would have made as good a job, but of course they didn’t! Well done Frank.
These counters function smoothly and perfectly and we have put Partridges and Pheasants on the silver side and Woodcock and Grouse on the other brass/gold side. Instead of Woodcock and Grouse we have the option of Dove and Quail for our friends across the pond.
Some history might be of interest. Game counters were popular in the 1900s and indeed Dixons 1904 catalogue shows 11 different types! They were made as a result of the competition between Victorian Sportsmen and Norfolk was the county of their choice, East Anglia saw much of the action with its wild bird shoots and personal bags were important and reputations ( and therefore invitations ) were jealously guarded; indeed sometimes personal bags were quoted in the newspapers of the day.
Whilst counting had to be taken seriously, overt counting was infra dig so the counter was made with this in mind.
The counter was worn on a long chain around the neck over the waiscoat and beneath the jacket. One side was made obviously different from the other – one was silvered and the other brass so that a glance would tell which side was uppermost. The bags in those days were mainly Pheasants, partridges , hares and rabbits so it was customary to put feather on the silver side ( partridges uppermost ) and fur on the brass side ( hares uppermost ).
All the four dials have a one way ratchet – clockwise – and it takes a certain positive pressure to click the dial on, one click being one head of game and the counter can be turned without looking at it. On really big days the scores were written down after each drive and the counter then returned to zero.
After he had just shot his 4 partridges out of the same covey ( ho ho ) and there was a lull in the shooting the sportsman would glance at the counter hanging just above his waist line and turn it to get the correct side up. Knowing that partridges were at the top of the silver side he, without looking, would make four clicks for his recent partridge score – easy – but perhaps too easy. If he hadn’t been placed well or his shooting wasn’t up to snuff then his scores might seem a little low in comparison to his own undoubted ability. So, to remedy this situation what was easier than a few extra clicks on the dials; and of course thats how the NORFOLK LIAR was born !
Our solid sterling silver/gilt counters are Hall Marked in Birmingham with all the correct hall marks.
Counters are made in Sussex and the lanyard in Somerset.