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Antique Board Games: Entertainment Through Time

There is no better activity for a rainy day than unwinding with a board game amongst friends and family. Gathering around an interactive table-top game is a great way to pass the time with friendly competition and bonding. Whether you enjoy a simple game of backgammon or a unique variant of chess, playing with antique boards and pieces will imbue your delightful match with history and beauty.


31-1086 The Battle of Issus Chess Set

No doubt the most luxurious chessboard we have ever seen, this antique piece brings the term “board game” to the next level. The board itself is crafted of pink rhodonite and green malachite to match the base of the pieces and may be removed for storage when not in use. The table’s sides are made from pure silver with high relief motifs depicting archers, horseman, and chariots. The most extraordinary part of this game is the chess pieces themselves. Each 14K gold game piece is unique and represents the Battle of Issus, one of the most important battles of the ancient world. The most exciting part: each piece is enhanced by a mechanical movement!


The game of chess has been around for nearly 1,500 years. The earliest origins may be traced back to predecessors in India. Since then, the game has evolved from a contest of quick, tactical maneuvers to long-term strategic planning. The game of chess is now celebrated for the strategy and patience it requires.


“Bughouse” is one of the most popular chess variants, and includes four players instead of two. Double the members, double the fun! In this rendition of chess, two teams of two players face each other on two different boards. The game is played in its traditional manner with one alteration: when a piece is captured, the player that captured it passes it to their partner. On that player’s turn, they may either make a standard chess move or place the captured piece back on the board.


“Kriegspiel” has also become a popular chess variant and includes the intriguing rule of not being allowed to see your opponent’s pieces nor know their movements. This is drastically different from the traditional game of chess, as the original is a game of complete information and strategy. Given the logistically difficult nature of Kriegspiel, the variant may only be played with the help of an arbiter that informs the opponents on captures, whether they have made legal or illegal moves and what direction their King is in check.



30-0329 Japanese Backgammon or Sugoroku Game Set


30-0329 Japanese Backgammon or Sugoroku Game Set

Another unbelievable antique board game, this Japanese Backgammon game set is as much an object d’art as it is a form of entertainment. The sides of the board are decorated in a splendid foliate motif of golden lacquer, and the same decoration encompasses the accompanying dice shaker. Dating back to 1820, this piece was made during the Meiji-period in Japan and can be played as backgammon or sugoruku, a traditional Japanese game similar to backgammon.


Alongside chess, backgammon is one of the oldest games in existence. Historians date the game back to almost 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. The game’s premise has been around for centuries with it’s twenty-four points and thirty pieces, but it was not always called by the name backgammon. The first known renditions of the game were called “Senet” and “Mancala”, but it was the Romans that first popularized that game with their version known as "Duodecum Scripta et Tabulae" or "Tables" for short. Many frescoes discovered in Roman villas reveal individuals gathered around a table and playing an exciting game of what we now know as backgammon.


Variations of backgammon have evolved over the years, ranging from simple modifications designed for children to incredibly complex add-on rules. Perhaps the most popular variant is Acey-deucey which ensures an exiting, fast-paced game. The main distinguishing feature is that rolling a one or a two awards a player extra turns.



31-0907 Victorian Games Compendium


31-0907 Victorian Games Compendium

This antique Victorian games compendium truly has everything needed for an entertaining evening at home. The double-level case is filled to the brim with the necessities for chess, checkers, cards, and dominos. Crafted of oak with bronze mounts, this game chest is as handsome as it is functional. The checkers/chess board is inset into the lid and doubles as a surface to play dominos on the reverse side. The chest also houses card holders for each suit featuring an inset diamond, heart, club, and spade and four wells to hold the die. Game chests such as this one were a staple for many homes during the 18th and 19th centuries when entertaining at home was of the utmost social relevance.


Games and entertainment are necessities for a lively night in, whether you are playing chess, backgammon, or simply a hand of cards. These antique games are set apart by their beauty and historical relevance; they can be used for their intended purpose and a lovely decoration that will draw in any onlooker. Challenge them to a match!


To view our full collection of gaming antiques, visit our website.


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