Hand crafted games board
Hand crafted games board

Sometimes the world smiles at you in unexpected ways!

Our hospital has a little Red Cross shop, which supplies crutches and mobility aids to hospital patients, but also sells little craft items, hand made by the ladies who volunteer there.

It's a place where home-made preserves still can be found. They sell hand-knitted scarves, beanies and toy and knitted teapot cosies! There are small craft items at Xmas, and the money raised supports them and our hospital. The cost of these items doesn't even begin to cover the materials used to make them, much less the time it takes to put them together.

This week, I saw a games board.

Manesse Codex, 14th century, Germany.
Manesse Codex, 14th century, Germany.

As far as there items go, it was priced well above everything else in the shop, and the lady seemed a little apologetic. It was $30. That's all. Such a small amount for the huge amount of time, skill and effort which would have gone into making this item. The pieces are inlaid, not painted. And the board is quite a large size and the workmanship is beautiful.

It's beautiful!

Medieval upper class women, as we know, were board game players as much as we are today. They could afford to pay for beautifully-crafted boards and pieces and had the leisure time in which to play. I am planning on painting some decorative roses on the dark pieces. 

Lewis Chess Queen: photo British Museum
Lewis Chess Queen: photo British Museum

Very few surviving sets remain. The most famous, the Lewis Chessmen, date to between the 12th and early 13th century. They are made from both sperm whale tooth and walrus ivory. 

Although it is likely they were made in Trondheim, Norway, they were discovered on a beach in Lewis, Scotland.

The pieces are held in both the Scottish Museum and the British Museum. 82 pieces are owned by the British Museum in London, and 11 are at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. There is another in a private collection, sold at auction, and the whereabouts of the others is unknown.

The Lewis chess set is the most widely reproduced set in the world.


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