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LadyReb
12-19-2006, 05:49 PM
I have looked for a long time for information on checkers. All I can find is they were around in the 1860s and there were tournaments.

I need to know the size and color of the chips. What was the board made of? Was it wood or canvas? Were the colors of the squares red and black as they are today? What size was the board?

Any help appreciated.

vmescher
12-20-2006, 10:05 AM
I have looked for a long time for information on checkers. All I can find is they were around in the 1860s and there were tournaments.

I need to know the size and color of the chips. What was the board made of? Was it wood or canvas? Were the colors of the squares red and black as they are today? What size was the board?

Any help appreciated.

I found information on draughts/checkers in _The Boy's Own Book_ 1833, _The American Boy's Book of Sports and Games_ 1864, _Hoyle's_ 1857 and 1864. A brief history of the games, rules and example games were included in all the books, with both the _Hoyle's_ having many more game examples included.

All the books indicated that the draughts board was the same as a chess board, one with 64 alternating black and white squares. Only the 1864 _Hoyle's_ mentioned that a chess board could be black and red. The playing pieces were exactly alike (as opposed be being different shapes as in chess) except in color, with each player having 12 of either black or white game pieces.

In the 1864 _Hoyle's_ they included a variation of checkers called "Polish Draughts" which was played on a board of 100 squares, 50 of each color and was played with 40 counters - 20 for each player. It was also stated that this version was "almost the only one played on the Continent, and the crowned piece was called the Queen, instead of King."

No mention was made of the size of of the playing pieces in any of the books nor was any mention made of the size or material of the board.

Game boards at the time were made of wood, pasteboard, and paper. Playing pieces were wood, ivory or bone and ebony as were chess pieces, Some game pieces were were made of pasteboard.

If I recall correctly, there may have been some mention of soldiers drawing a board on the inside of their poncho or gum blanket but I haven't done research on military game playing. I would expect that most anything could have been used for playing pieces as long as a difference could have been distinguished between the "black" and "white" pieces.

Milton Bradley produced a set of games called, "Games for Soldiers" that contained The Checkered Game of Life, Chess, Checkers, and several games of dominoes. The game boards were thin paper and the playing pieces were pasteboard.

I wish I could have been of more assistance.

We do have the _Boy's Own Book_ for sale on our website and still have a few copies of _The American Boy's Book of Sports and Games_ left. The latter is now out of print and when these are gone we will be unable to reorder. Both books are in the Books, 19th century reproduction section.

BobSullivanPress
12-20-2006, 04:01 PM
I own a "Game box" which I believe dates to the Civil War era (since Lord's collectors encyclopedia shows a strikingly similar item.

The box is about the size of a shoe box, and made of wood. It is two halves, and the halves hinge open. On the outside of the box is a checkerboard, the differening squares made of different types of wood. The inside of the box is a backgammon board painted a light green background with the backgammon positions painted in black and red. The box came with two wooden dice cups (stained red on the outside), two bone dice, and enough black and white discs to play either checkers or backgammon.

LadyReb
12-20-2006, 05:46 PM
Thank you both for your responses. This helps a great deal.

We own an old 20" X 20" wood checkerboard with 2" red and black squares that has been in my husband's family many generations. I have always wanted to use it for something (wall hanging?) but someone gave me a wooden nickel 1 1/2" and I discovered it was the perfect size for the squares. I bought some blanks from the wooden nickel store and tried dying some with tea. After letting them soak in extremly strong tea 24 hours and then drying they are a medium brown color. The original color is of course light wood.

What kind of natural dye would produce black? Would I have to resort to paint?

Frenchie
12-20-2006, 08:51 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkers

Little brag here: My grandfather Auguste Lafrance (he didn't capitalize the 'f') was a Canadian draughts champion while in his teens. He played on a 12 x 12 board with 30 pieces on each side.

Isn't there a period receipt for black dye using iron (ferric oxide)?

BobSullivanPress
12-21-2006, 02:18 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkers

Isn't there a period receipt for black dye using iron (ferric oxide)?

Tannic Acid and Iron Sulphate will produce black dye. It's a period recipe, found in the 1855 Ordnance Booklet on the Rifle Musket under the heading

"Mr. Dinghee's Instructions for Re-blacking Belts"

Of course, in that work the materials are referred to as "Boiled Nut Galls" (which produce the tannic acid) and Pyrolignite of Iron (which is ferrous sulphate, or iron sulphate)