Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 3:27pm

This card shoe was used for dealing cards in illegal baccarat clubs, or baccarat ‘schools’ as they were usually called. Baccarat is a game in which two or more ‘punters’ gamble against the ‘banker’.  Illegal schools took off in Sydney during the Second World War, initially focussed on servicing cashed up US servicemen. But Sydneysiders were equally drawn to the game, often playing for high stakes. A Sydney solicitor claimed in one court case in 1965 that he had lost £50,000 ($1.25 million in 2012) over two years to baccarat. Although corruption was rife very little was done to close down the schools aside from the occasional police raid. The murder of baccarat king Richard Gabriel Reilly in 1967 saw baccarat schools make way for more lucrative and flashy illegal casinos, offering additional games like roulette, blackjack and craps, and generating millions in black market income and bribes. This shoe, called ‘Le Banquier’ – the Banker - is probably a relic of a police raid during the 1940s. It was manufactured in France by Jost & Cie of Paris and is marked with the patent number 353434 and individually numbered 3243.

Photograph: Jamie North, 2013
Wooden card shoe, early 20th century Wooden card shoe (detail), early 20th century Yellow plastic label on a wooden card shoe (detail), early 20th century Wooden card shoe (detail), early 20th century  Wooden card shoe, early 20th century
Justice & Police Museum