Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Game of the Goose

From The New York Times, Art and Design Section.

A Quirky Board Game With Versions Spanning 400 Years 

EVE M. KAHN FEB. 25, 2016

Adrian Seville has bought hundreds of board games, but he has hardly any interest in playing them. A retired university administrator living outside London, Dr. Seville has focused on collecting variants of the Game of the Goose, which was invented in the 15th century and remains in production. While its rules may be too simplistic for his tastes — players roll dice and try to beat one another to the 63rd square — he nonetheless described the collecting process as “highly addictive.”

The Grolier Club in Manhattan has borrowed about 70 of Dr. Seville’s finds for an exhibition, “The Royal Game of the Goose: Four Hundred Years of Printed Board Games,” running through May 14. On the boards’ tracks, players maneuver among squares that allow for leaps ahead or lost turns or slogs backward. The squares and the borders on Dr. Seville’s games are printed with images including everything from happy aristocratic lovers to Richard M. Nixon, cannibals, brutalized slaves, shipwrecks, brown envelopes with cash bribes and advertisements for dolls, tires, biscuits, breath mints and gas lighting.

A skating-rink version of the Game of the Goose made in Paris in 1900.CreditAdrian Seville Collection

Given the diversity of themes, Dr. Seville said, “All human life is here.” He has even seen the Game of the Goose adapted to promote sewage pumps. “Some are so dull that they’re actually interesting,” he said. He has paid up to thousands of dollars apiece for the games, which turn up widely at auction houses including, a website he set up with a fellow enthusiast, Luigi Ciompi. 

At the Grolier Club, a few of the games are laid out horizontally under glass; visitors can ask for playing pieces and dice at the front desk and try their hand at racing along the squares. [See exhibit/tour information below between the two asterisk rows].


Wednesday, February 24-Saturday, May 14
Ground Floor Gallery Exhibition: "The Royal Game of the Goose – Four Hundred Years of Printed Board Games," curated by Adrian Seville. Free public tours of the exhibition, led by Grolier Club member Gretchen Adkins, will be offered every Tuesday, 1 PM-2 PM, during the run of the show: March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, WEDNESDAY APRIL 6, April 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10.

Goose or the Game of the Goose, was mentioned in an article I recently posted on January 23, 2016:

Chess, Gambling, and Cards: Tudor Indoor Pasttimes

In the USA a variation of the game is known as Chutes and Ladders (Snakes and Ladders), which itself is derived from an ancient Indian board game called Mokshapat or Moksha Patamu, and was played perhaps as early as the 2nd century BCE.  (See The Times of India, "Who Invented the Game of Snakes and Ladders?," October 8, 2008).

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