Games Board thumbnail 1
 Games Board thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Games Board

1620 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.



object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Amber, tortoise shell, metal foil and ivory on an oak framework, with silver mounts
Brief Description
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.
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.



Dimensions
  • Length: 39.3cm
  • Closed height: 9.2cm
  • Open width: 52.5cm
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 (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.)
Gallery Label
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)
Object history
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.
Subjects depicted
Literary ReferenceOvid
Bibliographic Reference
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
Collection
Accession Number
W.15-1910

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record createdJanuary 22, 2004
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