Sunday, July 04, 2010

Ale-Scores and Tally Sticks

The debt you ran up at an ale house or inn. Score was a cut or notch made on a stick as a way of reckoning debts or purchases, when a convenient number of cuts had been made, often 20, the stick was cut to size, tailee in French, and called a Tally Stick.

The Tally Sticks on the right are part of a collection held by Southampton City Council Archaeology Dept.

The practise of ale scoring is still used in some parts of the world, some tapas bars in Seville write your ale (or tapas and sherry) score on the blackboard surface of the bar where you are standing, when it is paid up the barman wipes the bar clean for another drinker/diner to take your place.

Ale scoring and tally sticks are very early forms of memory aids, the picture below shows a timeline of mnemonic devices through history, you can find an interactive version of the timeline at the Klagenfurt University site.

1 comment:

  1. Some bars in the Czech Republic still use a piece of card 1" X 3" and mark a tally system. Loads better than the uncivilised system of paying for every pint as it's served.