|1814 English State Lottery Ticket|
Copyright Ron Shelley, Creative Commons
The Halloween carnival was coming up and I was determined that my class would win the crown for raising the most amount of money in elementary school.
And since we were selling chances (a raffle) on some obscure item like a cake or a $20 bill, I talked a couple of other girls into braving the high school wing and asking the teachers to buy chances. They were the obvious targets since they would surely want to support the school, yes?
One teacher (I can plainly see her even to this day), seated behind her desk, beehive hairdo stacked tall on her head, cat-eyed glasses perched on her nose, informed us that she didn't hold with taking chances, but she would donate to our efforts to raise money for our class. Even though the chances were probably no more than a quarter each, or 5 for a dollar, she felt that paying for a chance on something was akin to gambling.
That was the first time I realized the subtlety between purchasing a chance on raffle vs. donating to a cause. In the intervening years as I participated in various fund-raisers as a student, and then as a parent, I was careful to respect that not everybody is comfortable buying chances on something, even if it's just a cake.
So, since I'm giving away a Kindle Fire (btw, no purchase necessary!) this month, I got to wondering: when did people start selling chances for land, money, items, etc? It just seems like it would be a newfangled idea cooked up in the 21st century. A little research was in order...
There are subtle differences between raffles and lotteries. Raffle tickets are generally much cheaper than lottery tickets, the expected income is less, and the prizes are smaller as well. For a raffle, people purchase numbered tickets for a specific prize or group of prizes. Matching tickets are drawn out of the box/bag/hat/bowl at the appointed time and the person(s) holding the matching tickets win. Tombola and Bingo are considered raffles. Lotteries are usually much larger events, and operate on a much larger scale, with larger prizes that may grow as the "pot" grows.
|1776 Continental Congress Lottery Ticket|
Copyright Ron Shelley, Creative Commons
The first recorded signs of a lottery is believed to be from the Chinese Han Dynasty between 205 and 187 BC. The proceeds very likely helped finance major projects like the Great Wall of China. A reference to the “drawing of wood” in the Chinese Book of Songs also is believed to refer to the drawing of lots, similar to "casting lots". Homer’s Iliad mentions lots and there are several mentions in the Holy Bible of drawing lots, the most recognizable is that the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ vesture instead of tearing it.
Noblemen during the Roman Empire gave tickets to their guests and each guest received extravagant gifts such as dinnerware or silverware. Of course the guests didn’t have to pay for the privilege of “winning” a prize. During Augustus Caesar’s reign, lottery tickets were offered for sale to repair Rome, and the winners were given gifts, but not money.
Possibly the first lotteries to sale tickets where the prize was money was held in the 15th century in the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.) It was very common in the 1400s onward to hold public lotteries to raise money to help the poor and make improvements to the infrastructure of towns.
Queen Elizabeth organized an interesting lottery in 1566 to raise money for the kingdom. Interestingly, the ticket holders won prizes such as silver platters and other valuables equal to the money raised. The benefit was that the kingdom was able to use the money for three years, the duration of the lottery. This set-up was most likely the forerunner to the modern day stock market.
The Virginia Company of London raised money to support Jamestown; hundreds of lotteries financed roads, libraries, and churches in colonial America, and lotteries even played a part is some of the land runs during the westward expansion. So, not only are there instances of people paying for the chance to win some kind of prize, but in some cases the opportunity was free. Some of the Oklahoma land runs were run by lottery tickets to attempt to curb corruption.
Having concluded my research, I've discovered that lotteries and raffles come in all shapes and sizes, and they've been around a long, long time. Some are completely free, while others cost money to enter. There really is nothing new under the sun.
Except maybe Rafflecopter, yes? :)
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!
CFHS friends who enter the Kindle Giveaway below will be given a chance to win a signed copy of Claiming Mariah. Just let me know in the comments on today's post that you've entered the Kindle giveaway and that you'd like to be in the drawing for a copy of the book as well. Happy Trails!
|Click to Enter the Contest. No Purchase Necessary! :)|
Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in
and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In
those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning
and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her
if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay
doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making
up stories in her head. Claiming
Mariah is her second novel. Look for The Evergreen Bride, October, 2014. www.pamhillman.com Mississippi