The Noble Game of the Swan, 1821
While visiting Monticello recently I was struck by a 19th century example of “The Game of the Goose” lying on the floor, as if a child had just left off playing with it. It fascinates me that the board game, a staple of my childhood holidays, was also enjoyed by families (upper class families, at least) hundreds of years ago. Sixteenth century Italian households probably weren’t quite as board-game-obsessed as my family becomes every holiday season – we still reminisce about great Pictionary moments, and I have many utterly useless Trivial Pursuit answers irrevocably memorized. But still, this thread of commonality reassures me.
For a great tour of European board game history, check out this recent post from the invaluable Bibliodyssey with dozens of examples of themed board games going back to 1588. As usual, Peacay has done the research for us, scrounging the British Museum image database and linking to a paper on the development of the English board game. Enjoy, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Der Bergbau (The Working of Mines), mid-1800s