Object: Antique Box Games Compendium Table
Date: 19th century estimate
Place of origin: England
Folded: H. 93 cm. x W. 56 cm. x D. 43 cm.
Extended: H. 128 cm. x W. 114 cm. x D 77 cm.
Materials and Techniques/Art movement: Rosewood /of Victorian style estimate
Condition: In very good condition (only a few scratches during the ages and a broken small key in the key hole of the brass knob of the lifting top)
Current Location: Private collection
Object history note: In private collection for approximately 60 years
Physical description: An English Antique (probably of Victorian period) stereo Games Compendium Table having a solid rosewood lifting top with canted corners and a fitted brass knob with a key hole and a key (broken inside), a frieze of two compartments and a drawer below with a traditional brass swan round neck handle; raised on square fluted tapering legs ending in spade feet united by an X shaped framed stretcher (under-tier with a finial). The hinged lid reveals fitted compartments and the interior with slide-out trays of:
- Playing cards (multiple card games).
All the games accessories: the pawns, the chessmen, the dice, even the roulette ball are made of precious high quality material. The counters are metallic, gold plated. The chess and backgammon boards are made of fine leather, inset into the underside of the lid. The playing cards are made by the two oldest (appeared in the 19th century), leading and most important card manufacturers in England: THOMAS DE LA RUE & CO. Ltd. and CHAS. GOODALL. & SON, Ltd., LONDON, N.W. (back view signatures).
- Historical significance: This English Antique (probably of Victorian period) solid Box Games Compendium Table is one of three, of the same type, limited edition Games Tables ever made in England. As mentioned above, the playing cards are made by:
- the company THOMAS DE LA RUE & CO. Ltd. which was founded by Thomas de la Rue, who was considered to be a pioneer printer of the Victorian era, an historic figure for playing card collectors and philatelists
- the firm CHAS. GOODALL. & SON, Ltd., LONDON, N.W. which was founded by Charles Goodall, who steered the firm to becoming one of the biggest in the field.
About THOMAS DE LA RUE & CO. Ltd.
[ Thomas de la Rue (1793–1866) moved from Guernsey to London in 1821 and set up in business as a ‘Leghorn’ straw hat maker, then as a stationer and printer. He introduced letter-press printing and certain other ‘improvements’ into playing card production and was granted a patent in 1831 since he secured his business a Royal Warrant to produce playing cards. He produced his first playing cards in 1832 and over the years came to be recognised as the inventor of the modern English playing card. In 1855 the company started printing postage stamps and in 1860 banknotes. In 1896, the family partnership was converted into a private company. In 1921, the de la Rue family sold their interests. The company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1947. Then called Thomas De La Rue & Company, Limited, it changed its name in 1958 to The De La Rue Company Limited. ]
About CHAS. GOODALL. & SON, Ltd., LONDON, N.W.
[ As a child, the founder of the dynasty, Charles Goodall (1785-1851), came to London from Northampton, and was apprenticed to John William Hunt, head of the old and established playing card manufacturer Hunt & Sons, in 1801. He seems to have remained in their employ until 1820.
The Goodall business was first established in Soho in 1820, printing playing cards and message cards. Charles’ two sons joined the family firm. By the middle of the century, Goodall and its younger competitor Thomas De La Rue were the main producers of the two-thirds of all playing cards made in England. Fifty years later Goodall and Son were leading the market with annual production of over 2 million packs. Over the years, because of its clarity and beauty of design, Goodall’s distinctive court card pattern has been adopted or copied around the world. In 1922 the company merged with De La Rue. The new company kept the De La Rue name but the Goodall identifiers continued to be used for decades.
Products are identified by the Goodall trade mark (a heart with ‘Goodall’ inside), or “CG & S” or “Goodall”. ]
- Historical context note:Also known as ‘gaming tables’, they constitute pieces of furniture (antique or modern) which are built specifically for gaming only, with no intention or provision for use as a desk. From the early 18th century, due to the gradual creation of specialized rooms in the homes of the nobility and of the richer members of society, specialized furniture followed and there have been a wide variety of styles and designs.
The playing tops are usually covered with cloth or green baize. Queen Anne and early Georgian examples, with simple cabriole legs, often had recesses for gambling chips. Fold-over card tables, either rectangular or circular, were introduced during the mid-18th century. In some versions, the table legs opened by a concertina or gate leg action to provide support for the top. Other tables, dating from the early 19th century, had a swivel top that rested when opened on the pedestal block or a box-like construction to contain the cards.
It depends on stylistic and other indications for the collectors to judge the age of card tables, whether they be the elegant half-round tables on tapered and strung legs of the Neoclassical style, the early Victorian pedestal card tables, or the later 19th century card tables usually veneered in burr walnut (likewise the Rococo revival manner). The small, square tables with fold-up legs and baize or leather tops constitute a 20th century novelty.
Smalls tables (like the Games Table presented herein) equipped with an inlaid chess board and sometimes a backgammon board are often fitted with drawers to hold games pieces and accessories (pencils, score sheets and so on). The tops of these tables are sometimes either reversible or open to reveal the chess board underneath. Examples dating from the 18th century are known, but most still available are of Victorian origin.
- Bibliographic References
- Nicole De Reyniès, Le Mobilier Domestique: Vocabulaire Typologique, Paris, Ministère de la Culture et de La Communication, 1987.
- History of De La Rue’s playing cards webpage http://www.wopc.co.uk./delarue/indrx .
- Michael H. Goodall, Chas Goodall & Son: The Family and The Firm 1820-1922, Woking, 2000.