Who Invented Ping Pong?
Who invented Ping Pong? Was it a form of tennis for the vertically challenged or those desperate to avoid the sun? Well, let Jaques of London fill you in on a little secret; it was us that created ping pong. Well, to be more specific, it was John Jaques II. But how did it come into creation and how was the huge success of the Wimbledon tennis grounds responsible for bringing lawn play to the table?
Why Was Ping Pong Made?
The story of Ping Pong’s creation is one of surprise. Long before Wimbledon meant rallies with rackets and arguments with umpires, SW19 was the home of croquet. It was John Jaques II who, following the success of the games’ unveiling at The Great Exhibition of 1851, had turned croquet into a household name, with millions having their heads turned by the new luxury of leisure.
Sadly, for John Jaques II and croquet enthusiasts alike, it was tennis that was destined to be the king of the grass courts. By the early 1870s, lawn tennis was afforded the opportunity to shine in front of an eager London public, as the headquarters for croquet would be renamed to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. By 1882, the word croquet had disappeared from the club it had originated altogether.
John Jaques was not one to rest on his laurels and was already planning his recreational retort to the success that tennis was now enjoying, and thus, Gossima was born. Wait, what? Don’t worry, your eyes haven’t failed you. Before its essential renaming, Ping Pong was referred to as Gossima. It was Joe Jaques namesake and son who would keenly point out the need for a name more likely to appeal to the masses.
Why is it Called Ping Pong?
With an earlier board game having trademarked the likely name of choice, Table Tennis, it was left to the father and son pairing to find the perfect phrase to sell and promote the latest Jaques of London invention. Thus, prompted by the sound of the original cork-wrapped balls on the Drumskellan skin bats, in 1891, with onomatopoeia in mind, Ping Pong was born.
On 20 September 1900, Jaques of London would register the name of “Ping Pong” alongside Hamleys of London. As with his previous recreational endeavours, Ping Pong became a hugely popular parlous game among the middle class. In fact, it was so popular that rival companies would introduce their own versions of the game, resulting in a slew of new names to avoid copyright infringement, with Whiff Whaff, Indoor Tennis and Parlour Tennis among the most notable.
But, as Jaques and Hamleys were keen to point with their on-box warning,
“ALL IMITATIONS sold under other spurious titles should be refused as they are NOT Ping-Pong at all, and have no right to be sold as such.”
The Home of Ping Pong
Indeed, ever since its inception, Jaques of London have remained guardians of the ping pong ball and home to a game that has gone on to be played at Olympic level. In fact, such was its noteworthiness, that Boris Johnson (Mayor of London at the time of the 2012 London Olympics) would lean upon the games name to declare that,
“We looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to play Whiff Whaff. That is why London is the sporting capital of the world."
We will forgive him his naming faux pas. Instead, we are happy to join in his mayoral merriment to celebrate the significant game that ping pong has gone on to become. In fact, it remains a staple of the Jaques of London product line to this day, with modern sets complimented by a classic recreation of the very original Ping Pong Game Set and box design.
So, the next time you ask yourself ‘Who invented Ping Pong’, you won’t be stuck in the net when it comes to getting to the very heart of the question, with Jaques of London.