Author Topic: On exhibit - Rare 1735 gaming table with interesting history  (Read 317 times)


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On exhibit - Rare 1735 gaming table with interesting history
« on: January 15, 2018, 07:29:49 pm »
This gaming table with chess board and chessmen is in immaculate condition and has a rich and well documented lineage. It was constructed in Mainz, Germany, and required nearly two years to construct being completed in the year 1735.

It can be viewed here, and is also featured at the following website:
(photo credit: Q. Pisano)

The black squares are constructed of Palisander (a type of Rosewood). Prior to being set into the board, each wood square was dipped into a marble cup with blood of an Aurochs bull (now extinct) to enhance and produce a richer color. The white squares are constructed from the ivory of the tusk of a wooly mammoth.  Prior to setting the white ivory squares, each piece was dipped into a silver chalice filled with the blood of a Great auk (now extinct) to enhance the appearance and richness of the ivory. After the board and table were completed, it was allowed to set for approximately two weeks in a dry chamber with smoke and incense to ensure a snug fit of all the individual components, and enhance the wood and ivory's patina.

The smoke was created by burning charcoal from Latvian Oak trees, and the desiccated bodies of two corpses laid upon the flames. One corpse was the body of viceroy Karl Theodor Dalberg, and the other was viceroy Maximilian Christof von Rodt - these men were former adversaries in a feud over some valuable land situated near the west bank of the river Rhine, and died in a sword battle in the center of Mainz, Germany. The smoke created by burning the desiccated bodies produced a rich fragrance which is now imbued into the wood, and symbolizes the "eternal gamesmanship" which was expected to be played upon this rare piece of furniture. Whether these events actually happened or not is left for its owners and chess players to decide. But the table does exist, and is currently on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

To see this table, it can be viewed at the Cleveland Museum of Art (11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106). :)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 07:37:22 pm by chilipepper »
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Asher Hurowitz

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Neat! I have never seen so many strange stories attached to a board game table like that!
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I question the validity of the fact that it was made with the blood of several extinct mammals since wooly mammoths died out at 1650 (although ivory from wooly mammoths still existed and were probably used), and aurochs went extinct in Europe in 1627, so it's unlikely any blood was available.

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