Looking for info on
the "Roll 'Em" game

What I know about this game thusfar:

I bought this game at an antique store in Llano, Texas. It had a note on it saying that it had been used in Las Vegas in the 1940s. The person who was selling it wasn't around and I wasn't able to get any further info on it from her, but it seems doubtful to me that it was made in Fort Worth, got all the way to Las Vegas and then found its way back to an antique store in Llano.

The game itself is heavy and wooden, with a thick glass top. It seems to be operated by a spring inside of it that is triggered when the metal bar you see sticking up out of the bottom is pushed upward into the machine. That makes the green felt on which the dice are resting vibrate and the dice roll. The bar goes all the way through the top of the machine, and if you press the bar back down, it forces the felt to stop vibrating and the rolling stops. The silkscreen lettering is on a some sort of paperboard, I think, though it's hard to tell because it's under the glass. The red ring around the area that the dice are in looks plastic, but I guess it could be Bakelite, and the dice are small and slightly yellowed.

There's a little water damage along the bottom; I suspect this thing might have been sitting in a bar somewhere. The glass on the top measures exactly 18.5" x 12", and is held in by the metal brackets on the sides.The back is completely blank, and there are no patent numbers anywhere on it. The words at the bottom read "Roll 'Em" and "Y.B Yates Ft. Worth." Basically, it's cool and it works perfectly.

I contacted Max Hill at the Fort Worth Public Library, who gave me the following info:
There was a Young B. Yates who lived in Fort Worth from 1907 until 1974. He died in Upshur County, Texas on September 4, 1974 and was interred in Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. He was born on May 11, 1892. I checked the city directories and found him working as a messenger and as a soda dispenser in a pharmacy. In 1920, he became an oil operator and that was the way he was listed in the City Directories. He was missing from the City Directories from 1925 until 1935. He showed up again in the city directories in 1936. I did not find an obituary for him that would be of any help. I checked www.ancestry.com and found a realtive. You might contact her.

I did contact her, and here's what she told me:
Y.B. Yates was named after his father, Young Baxter Yates Sr. Nobody knows which man invented the game, but it is very possible that either man could have invented it. From what we know at this time the younger man is probably the inventor of the game. Our Aunt Lillian said he was very nice but he was a gambler and lived for awhile in New Orleans. He didn't work a regular job but they always had money.

If you've ever seen this game before or know anything about it, I'd love to hear from you. I'm pretty curious.

© 2001 E.V. Hobbs

This page added November 8.

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