'Physogs' Game an Antique Oddity at Eljay's
Eljay's Used Books has many antique oddities, and this game is one of the strangest.
Did you know that if you have a pointed nose, you might be suave? Or that having a small mouth could mean you’re crafty, or even a bit self-centered?
Actually, those theories went out of style long ago. They are part of the semi-scientific field of physiognomy—the study of how specific facial features determine personality—and they were even immortalized in a game called Physogs.
The game is apparently no longer produced, but at Eljay’s Used Books in Dormont, a copy of it lives on—although, simply as a weird and entertaining game.
Eljay’s co-owner Frank Oreto said that to the best of his knowledge, Physogs is a British game that was produced in the 1930s. It was intended as a game, but also as a way to teach physiognomy. BoardGameGeeks.com has a little more info about it.
“It didn’t do so well,” Oreto said. “It failed on most counts. As you can imagine, it offended some people.”
The game is played by reading game cards containing descriptions of facial features, then placing corresponding photos of facial features—eyes, noses, mouths—onto a game board shaped like a human head. A guide book helps determine what the personality might be for the face you created.
Physogs might not have scientific proof to back up its claims, but it’s still a neat treasure, and one of many found among the shelves at Eljay’s.
“It certainly had some notoriety when the study was popular,” Oreto said. “I don’t think it was the Monopoly of the times, though. I doubt tournaments were played over this one.”
Editor’s note: Eljay’s won a 2012 Readers’ Choice Award from Dormont-Brookline Patch this summer for having the best antique oddities, a distinction it shares with Beyond Bedtime Books on Potomac Avenue.