Posted by: Wayne Robinson | March 1, 2012

Games boxes

Now you have all your new-found board game skills worked out, what do you do with them? Get one of these to play on, obviously.

There’s chess on the B side and backgammon inside. Here’s another example.

And there are entire sites devoted to them. Obviously the flash sets are for the nobs, but let’s have another, closer look at the one the soldiers were playing draughts on from the post a few back. You can plainly see the division between the two layers of the board and the two catches holding them closed.

Game of Draughts - detail

So there were plainer ones around for the plebs, just very few of them make it in to the history books or on display in museums. There’s an earlier backgammon board from the Mary Rose (1545) made in a similar way but without the B-sides for the other games, the two leaves of the board look like they have been made by different people and really obviously don’t match. The quality of the work is similar to the one in the painting. The other remarkable thing is that the veneer, particularly on the German ones, is as thin as modern knife-cut veneer, not medieval sawn veneer. You can see it in the corners where it’s lifting.

Often they were carried in a cloth or leather bag to protect them. The Mary Rose one had traces of red cloth on the outside, and there’s a couple of inventories from the 16th century specifying white leather bags.

So now there’s no excuse not to get a board or two. I’m going to have a crack at making one and might let you know how I go.



  1. I saw some very pretty tables sets on the stall of Green Oak Games in the UK. They were fairly priced for the workmanship, which is to say not cheap. They have a website but it doesn’t have their nice boards on it that I could see.

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