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The Cod Piece was an integral part of the Tudor Court Rules as played by Henry VIII. These rules state "At the passing of the Cod Piece, 'tis the holder who may nominate, except when out of Croop."
These days, the use of a Cod Piece has been superceded by the use of a Nib, which is obviously much more hygienic. Where cod was not available, haddock was generally considered an acceptable substitute.