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Tableman - Draughtsman or gaming piece

Draughtsman or gaming piece

  • Object:

    Tableman

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)
    Scandinavia (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    11th century to 12th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Antler

  • Museum number:

    A.21-1942

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The game of tables, or backgammon, was popular in the 11th and 12th centuries. There were 15 counters to each side, and 12th century boards inlaid with bone sections have been excavated at Gloucester and Saint-Denis. About 250 Romanesque tablemen with figurative designs survive. The game was popular throughout Northern Europe and the pieces were made in a number of different centres, with the most productive workshops based in Northern France and Cologne
They are to be found in most museums with archeological collections and difficult to date because of their simple ornament and the unchanging nature of their design.

Physical description

Antler gaming piece, decorated with engraved concentric circles, the outer ring containing a row of small circles each with a dot in the centre. Cut from a flat bone, the upper and lower surfaces formed by the hard outer part of the bone with soft porous inside.

Place of Origin

England (made)
Scandinavia (possibly, made)

Date

11th century to 12th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Antler

Dimensions

Diameter: 5.1 cm

Object history note

Given by Miss M.H. Longhurst (Keeper of the Department of Architecture and Sculpture), having been purchased at a little print shop in Wardour Street. It came 'from excavations in Bishopsgate Street within, North side, a few doors east of Threadneedle street - deep down - bought on the spot when found' (written on a label, presumably by the proprietor of the shop).

Historical significance: Rudimentary gaming pieces were made throughout Northern Europe in the 11th - 13th centuries. They are to be found in most museums with archeological collections and difficult to date because of their simple ornament and the unchanging nature of their design.

Descriptive line

Tableman, antler, England, 11th - 12th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Grieg, S. Middelalderske Byfund 1933, p. 257.
Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings. Early Christian to Romanesque. London, V&A Publishing, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2010, p. 416 , cat.no. 105

Materials

Antler

Categories

Games; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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