Jenkins Coin Game

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, February 7, 1914:  Ruth and I went up to a social at McEwensville this evening. Had quite a favorable time. Also learned how to play up Jenkins. Our side got beat some.

Quite a funny thing happened when we started to come home. It was all Ruthie’s fault any way.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma—more please. What funny thing happened that was Ruth’s fault?

Sounds like Grandma and her sister Ruth had a fun Saturday evening—even if Grandma’s team didn’t do well.

I learned a new game today. I never heard of Jenkins; but when I googled it, a Wikipedia entry for Jenkins popped up. I discovered that it is also called Up Jenkins and is a coin game.

Players on a team hide a coin in a hand as they slap their palms down on a table. The other team tries to guess which hand the coin is under.

According to Wikipedia:

The captain of one team takes a coin and passes it under the table to the second person of the team. The players on that team pass the coin under the table back and forth from one player to another. The object of the game is to do it so carefully that the opposing team cannot guess which player has the coin.

Once this selection is made, the opposing team’s captain yells “Up Jenkins” at which point all players on the team with the coin place their elbows on the table with their hands extended straight toward the ceiling. The opposing team’s captain then yells “Down Jenkins” or “Bang Ems”, at which point the “coin” team slams their palms face-down on the table. The goal of this stage of the game is to conceal the “clink” of the coin on the table to confuse the other team as to where the coin is.

In the guessing phase of the game, the non-coin team selects palms, one by one, in an attempt to isolate the coin as the “last palm standing.”

14 thoughts on “Jenkins Coin Game

  1. That does sound like a fun game.
    And, I’ve commented before: Grandma is teasing us…… she had an inkling that someone would someday find her journal, and she planned ahead to have fun with them/us!

  2. How cool that you have a penny that old. Hang on to it because we don’t even use penny’s in Canada anymore and I don’t even think I saved one. I’m hoping one will turn up in a pocket somewhere.

  3. I never heard of Jenkins before. Sounds like it could result in a lot of laughter. I think I might have a Canadian penny around here somewhere. Living in Detroit we got Canadian coins pretty regulary.

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