Although offensive to 20th century mores, ‘The New and Fashionable Game of the Jew’ was deemed a suitable pastime for children at the turn of the 19th century.
First published by the London printer and
games specialist John Wallis Snr of 13 Warwick Square, on June 16,
1807, the aim of this simple dice and board game was to collect as
many counters as possible to emulate the stereotypical Jewish
banker pictured in the centre of the board with his money bags.
The Broadway composer and collector Stephen
Sondheim has laconically described it as a game that "taught kids
to be anti-semitic" - but he owns a copy and many other games
collectors aspire to own one too.
The example offered by
Brightwells (17.5 buyer's premium) of Leominster on January 9
was part of a collection of hand-coloured 19th century board games
consigned by a local history teacher.
Elements of the collection had proved
valuable teaching aids - and provided a decent retirement nest egg
to boot. His copy of The New and Fashionable Game of the
Jew was not the very best (the top of the paper slipcase
was damaged and the playing surface was heavily foxed) but it sold
Wallis's New Geographical Game
Exhibiting a Tour through Asia sold for the highest
price at £1200. Published from the Map Warehouse, Ludgate Street in
1803, this is a scarce variant of the 'grand tour' game made
popular by John Wallis at the end of the 18th century.
The playing spaces across the linen-backed
board include the regional capitals, the battle sites and
commercial centres of a dozen delineated geographical areas that
include Persia, Chinese Tartary and
Indoostan. Again the pictorial slipcase was damaged but
again the price was many times the £130-150 estimate.
Teaching geography, history, science and
religion through play became a favoured method of Georgian and
Historical Pastime or a New Game of the
History of England from the Conquest to the Accession of George the
Third plots more than 150 squares around a spiral with
Adam and Eve and the start and a portrait of George III at its
centre. Published 'by J. Harris and J. Wallis as the Act
Directs, 1803', the framed and glazed copy sold here (minus
its slip case) at £300.
Pyramid of History
On much the same theme was William Sallis's
New Tee-To-Tum Game. The Pyramid of History by the Author of
Why? What? and Because, or the Road to the Temple of
Knowledge, sold at £650. Here Queen Victoria forms the apex of
the pyramid that begins at square one with The Creation.
Sold at £440 was British and Foreign
Birds. A New Game, Moral Instructive and Amusing, Designed to
Allure the Minds of Youth to an Acquaintance with the Wonders of
Nature published by William Darton in 1820, while
Peter Parleys Victoria Game of British Sovereigns from William
the Conqueror to Victoria the First (probably by Darton,
c.1840) took £120.
There was considerable interest in a hand-coloured paper and
card peep-show panorama c.1830 entitled Theatrorama or a
Peep at the Playhouse that showed a theatre interior with
dancers on stage. Examples of this early date, that pre-dated the
'golden age' of peep-show panoramas by a generation, are rare in
any condition. This very well-preserved example achieved £1000.