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Games board and pieces

Games board and pieces

  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, made)
    Netherlands (possibly, made)
    Eger (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1650-1655 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painting, marquetry and carving.

  • Museum number:

    2393:1 to 29-1855

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Place of Origin

England (possibly, made)
Netherlands (possibly, made)
Eger (possibly, made)


1650-1655 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painting, marquetry and carving.


Depth: 83 cm, Width: 48.5 cm, Thickness: 5 cm fully open, Depth: 41.5 cm closed, Thickness: 10.6 cm closed

Descriptive line

Backgammon and chessboard with gaming pieces, various coloured woods, English, Dutch or Hungarian, ca. 1660

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

Pollen, John Hungerford, Ancient and Modern Furniture and Woodwork, (South Kensington Museum, London, 1874) p. 162-166
Victoria & Albert Museum: Fifty Masterpieces of Woodwork (London, 1955), no. 25.

A Games Board

Highly elaborate chessboards are frequently mentioned in medieval inventories, and in contemporary illuminations ladies v gentlemen are shown engaged in the game. Henry VIII possessed costly ‘bourrles' or ‘pairs of tables’ for the ‘Pleasaunt and Wittie Plaie of the Cheastes'; and in later Renaissance times exquisitely wrought boards of ivory, rock-crystal, and ornamental woods, often decorated with designs or figured subjects, came into increased vogue among the noble and merchant classes.
This seventeenth-century games-board, made in England or Holland, is marked on the inside for backgammon and on the outside for merels and fox-and-geese, as well as for chess. The illustrations carved on the inside border show on the left (clockwise) shovel-board, bat-and-ball, kayles(?) and quintain, and on the right bagtelle, knur-and-spell, nine-pins, and tennis. The board is framed in ebonized pearwood and decorated with marquetry of satinwood, boxwood, tulip and other woods. The oriental caravan and shipping scenes, interpreted by European eyes soon after 1600, illustrate the effect on decoration of early trading ventures by the English and Dutch East India Companies.
The board, formerly in the Bernal Collection was bought by the Museum in 1855.

English or Dutch; early seventeenth century.
L. 31 ½ in., W. 19 in.

Labels and date

ENGLISH or DUTCH; early seventeenth century
Various woods.

The inside border illustrates games such as quintain, ninepins, and tennis. Note also the oriental shipping and caravan scenes, which reflect the interest aroused by the activities of the recently founded Dutch and English East India Companies. [pre October 2000]
BACKGAMMON and CHESS BOARD. Of various coloured woods with burnt scrolls, the chequers of animals, birds and flowers. The interior ornamented with groups of camels and figures, bordered with carvings in relief, coloured, of men playing at various games, - containing 29 draughtsmen, carved on both sides with animals. English. About 1660. 31.5 in. by 19 in.
Bought (Bernal Coll.), 10l 10s. [ca. 1860]
Various woods.
Eger (now in Hungary); about 1650

The board is laid out for chess and draughts, backgammon, merels and fox-and-geese; the inside borders illustrate other games such as shovelboard, quintain, ninepins and tennis. The Eger cabinet-makers were celebrated for this kind of marquetry and relief carving. Large quantities were produced for export including games boards which were especially popular as gifts, although the texhnique was also applied to larger pieces of furniture, notably caskets [ca. 06/1987]


Carving; Marquetry

Subjects depicted



Games; Woodwork; Household objects


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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