Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck

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By Ricky Jay, Photography by Rosamond Purcell

Ricky Jay asked his friend Rosamond Purcell to photograph and commemorate his crumbling collection of dice. The result is a series of remarkable photographs that illuminate the mysterious beauty of these curious objects.

Even if the story is apocryphal, even if the dice found in Pompeii and Herculaneum were not loaded, those used by avid Roman gamblers contained a built-in potential for cheating. In an age long before the invention of the micrometer, how could the cubes be perfectly square? Casinos now demand a product machined to within one ten-thousandth of an inch on each side. The natural imperfections of dice fashioned by hand might have been used to advantage by ancient gamesters whose empirical knowledge of percentages can be conjectured. (p. 14)

Rotten Luck: Failing Dice from the Collection of Ricky Jay is an ongoing exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. More information can be found here.

Quantuck Lane Press, 2002, hardcover, 64 pages, 20 color photographs.