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Games board

  • Place of origin:

    Königsberg (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1620 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Amber, tortoise shell, metal foil and ivory on an oak framework, with silver mounts

  • Museum number:

    W.15-1910

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Richly decorated hinged games board, designed with a chess-board and a board for nine-men's-morris on the outside; inside is a backgammon board. The chess-board has squares of cloudy amber alternating with squares of clear amber placed over coloured foil. Soldiers in contemporary costume are depicted on the foil. Six small medallions of pierced ivory reliefs under clear amber probably depict scenes from Ovid. The backgammon board is profusely ornate and depicts four Virtues: Justice, Hope, Temperance and Fortitude - Virtues that may have been thought useful to a player of the games.Between the points are cloudy panels of amber, painted on the foil with birds in foliage.

The board consists of two hinged parts. The front of the outside consists of:
1) a space arranged for merelles or nine-mens'-morris. The centre square consists of clear amber over an ivory relief in a framework of etched gold, surrounded by a band of engraved ivory. The eight other spaces are in cloudy amber divided by borders of clear amber over foil with gilt arabesques.
2) two groups of two long panels of cloudy amber set with panels of clear amber over ivory reliefs and etched gold foil
3) a border of turtle shell backed with gold foil. The various divisions of the surface are marked by bands of engraved ivory.

The back is similarly arranged for chess, the chequers composed of alternate clear and cloudy amber. The former are backed with designs of warriors etched on gold foil.

The sides are of turtle shell set over foil, edged with ivory.

The inside of the board is decorated with various designs in clear and cloudy amber with ivory banding and stringing. The backgammon points, of clear amber edged with ivory on a background of cloudy amber, are alternately set against black of crimson foil with gold arabesques. Between the points the board is set with floral roundels and heads in relief. Across the centre of each half are bands of ivory with oval quatrefoil panels of amber bearing inscriptions (see below). Between these bands and along the borders of the two halves of the board are panels of cloudy amber edged with ivory and set with clear amber panels over ivory reliefs and various designs in gold on foil.

Place of Origin

Königsberg (probably, made)

Date

1620 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Amber, tortoise shell, metal foil and ivory on an oak framework, with silver mounts

Marks and inscriptions

WER IN DIESEM
BRETT SPIEL

WIL SPILEN
DER MUSHABEN

DER NVMMER
FIHL 1620

GODT GIBT FIHL
MEHR AVF EINEN

TAG ALS EIN
GANS KEINNIG

REICH
VER MAG

Whoever wants to play this board game must have plenty of numbers. In 1620 God gives more in one day than a whole kingdom has. When I had plenty to give I got along with everyone; now that I no longer have, no one wishes me good day. Good luck and glass: how soon they break!
Each pair of lines above appear in one of the six turtle-shell ovals inlaid into the pair of ivory bands that run across the recess of the board marked for backgammon on the left side of the board.

DO ICH GENVCH
HAT ZV GEBEN

DO KUNDT ICH
BEI IDERMAN

WOL LEBEN
NV ICH NICHT

MEHR VER
MAG SO WINSCH

MIHR NIMANDT
EINNEN GVTTEN

TAG GLICK VND GLAS
WI BAL BRICHT DAS
Each pair of lines above appear in one of the six turtle-shell ovals inlaid into the pair of ivory bands that run across the recess of the board marked for backgammon on the right side of the board.

Dimensions

Length: 39.3 cm, Height: 9.2 cm closed, Width: 52.5 cm open

Object history note

Purchased from G.J. Jennings, Walberswick, Southwold, Suffolk (Registered File: 276/1910). Mr Jennings noted that it was 'bought by me about twelve years ago at the sale of the contents of Gogmagog, Cambs., seat of the late Duke of Leeds'. Gog Magog House [sic] was the house associated with the racing stables of the Osborne family, Dukes of Leeds. It was built in the 1680s and demolished in 1954. The 'late Duke' mentioned, must have been George III Godolphin Osborne, 9th duke of Leeds (1828-1895). The Dukes of Leeds had seats at Hornby Castle and Kiveton, Yorkshire, with extensive collections. The sale of Gog Magog house has not yet been traced.

Descriptive line

Games board incorporating a chess board, a nine-men's morris board and a backgammon board, Königsberg, dated 1620, veneered with amber, turtle shell and ivory on a ground of oak, with silver fittings. The board is enriched with ivory reliefs and with etched designs in gold on crimson foil under translucent amber.

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

Trusted, Marjorie. Catalogue of European Ambers in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985. 119 p., ill. ISBN 0948107138, pp. 32-34

Labels and date

GAMES BOARD
GERMAN (Konigsberg?); dated 1620
Oak, veneered with amber, ivory and tortoiseshell, and with scenes executed on coloured foil.

Museum No.W.15-1910 [pre-2006]

Materials

Amber; Turtle shell; Foil; Ivory; Silver; Oak

Techniques

Cabinet-making; Veneering

Subjects depicted

Soldiers

Categories

Games; Entertainment & Leisure

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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