Antique Backgammon Sets


2015-06-26 11:15:09


Antique Backgammon Sets are collectible Backgammon sets produced more than 100 years ago.

Brief History

Backgammon is one of the oldest known two-player board games and is believed to have originated from the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia. The goal for each player is to move fifteen men or checker pieces off the board through twenty-four triangles or points. Accomplishing this goal is determined by a combination of luck (the roll of two dice) and strategy.

Backgammon is a game that used to be exclusive to the royal class. England's aristocrats started playing it in the year 1025. English gaming expert Edmond Hoyle published the official rules in 1743 though some have been revised since then.

A player has several options to move his men or pieces based on the roll of a die. Applying “the doubling cube” (so named because it raises the stakes for a match consisting of multiple games) and rules (such as the Jacoby Rule and the Crawford Rule) raise the complexity of the game even further. The “back game” and the “running game” are examples of tactics players use to gain advantage or beat their opponent.

Guide for Collectors

Antique backgammon sets are made of solid wood and are quite heavy. Backgammon board makers in the past also incorporated a lot of ornate designs and decorations in their creations to appease their royal clients.

Many experts consider the materials and style used in making a particular vintage backgammon board in determining the age of a backgammon set. English backgammon boards in the mid 1800s were made of leather while the pieces were crafted from bone. Wood inlays were also popular decorative elements in that era.

Nineteenth Century Chinese backgammon sets also functioned as furniture pieces. The tables had a central post supported by three legs shaped as lion heads. Aside from playing backgammon, these boards can also be used to play chess.

Backgammon tables can be accent pieces for those with a more permanent space available for board games. These tables can be simple or ornate.

Some museums include antique backgammon sets. New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art takes pride in its large collection of antique backgammon pieces. Some notable pieces in this museum are German made boards dating back to the 12th and 18th centuries.

Notable Auction Sales

A rare Middle Eastern backgammon board that was estimated to have been made either during the 15th or 16th century was purchased for £38,400 at Sotheby’s, London on April 30, 2003. This particular board featured mosaic designs and was made using ivory, metal, and wood.

A vintage Spanish colonial backgammon board was sold for $36,000 by Sotheby’s, New York on May 19, 2006. It was made using a variety of materials such as mother-of-pearl, ivory, bronze, and tortoiseshell. This particular board was estimated to have been crafted during the 17th century.

A box of ebony inlaid with ivory and silver from the late 17th Century fetched a price of £19,200 in an auction offered by Sotheby's London on June 8, 2005. This game box could be used for playing chess on one side of the exterior and backgammon on the interior. It is said to be of Ceylonese origin.

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