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Dimensions (inches): 23.75" square
This 19th century American Parcheesi game board is nothing short of a masterpiece of the form. Examples are judged by collectors on design, the number of colors employed, color selection, age, construction, scale, and paint surface (original versus repainted, nature of the patina, etc,). The board in question here scores well on all of the above, setting it firmly apart from the ordinary. In terms of whimsical, folk art impact, the design and the selection of colors could scarcely be better. Using two shades of orange, red, salmon, forest green, cornflower and navy blues, beige, white, and bronze-- an extraordinary number for any antique gameboard--the maker selected an unusually busy and extraordinarily detailed layout on which to employ them. What he/she achieved is similar to early, Pennsylvania German fraktur drawings, on the order of the Schwenkfelders in terms of the use of colors and impact, yet not unlike what one might expect to find on the floor of medieval castle. The use of reds and oranges next to one-another, that are so close in color, simultaneously lends it an off-balanced and unmistakably modern feel. This lends a positive effect, in that it keeps the eye moving and almost unable to rest.

Note that the artist used no less than 3 different styles of bronze-colored stars, with 5, 6, and 9 points, some with pierced centers and some solid, and some decorated with dots between each arm. Images of white roses appear on round, cornflower blue medallions in each corner. These are flanked on the horizontal and vertical by 5-pointed stars with the dotted embellishment, and are flanked in each corner with exuberant bee stings or stylized flowers, executed in varying color combinations. These almost look like hearts extending into an arrowhead and perhaps that was the intension. The center (home) space has a large, pierced, 9-pointed star, surrounded by blue and orange crosses with forked arms, the effect of which reminds me of coral or chickweed, the latter of which is a common image on political textiles and pottery of made for the American market in the 1840's and 50's. The circular medallion containing these designs is held in place by 4 urns, each decorated with a pierced, 6-pointed star and separated by the reverse sweetheart shapes naturally formed by the void between these and the square perimeter. Each of the 12 safe spaces on the surrounding tracks is marked by a pierced, 5-pinted star.

Measuring approximately 2 feet square, the board is very large among its counterparts, which adds to its desirability. Constructed of two, wide, softwood planks, that appear to be clear pine, there is a molded edge around the perimeter. This is applied with fine finishing nails that probably place the date in the 1880's, though the overall graphics seem 30-50 years earlier. I had to wonder if the molding was merely replaced in the 1880's or 90's, but this appears to be entirely original. Executed with the skill and precision of a carriage-painter, logic would suggest that the board's maker had been applying his craft professionally for many years, decorating wood or tin or perhaps pottery.

The use of white roses may have meaning beyond any romantic or Victorian notion. This symbol appears in objects from York County, Pennsylvania, adopted from the English House of York. The city of York, the county seat, was named after York, England and was affectionately nicknamed the White Rose City. Like most of South-eastern Pennsylvania, the surrounding area maintained a significant Pennsylvania German population throughout the 19th century and produced a plethora of paint-decorated furniture and folk art.

It is of some interest to note that York actually served as the Capital of the United States during a critical point in American history. Both during and after the Revolutionary War, the capital moved a few times to avoid British capture. Beginning in Philadelphia with the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774, the location was moved to Baltimore in 1776, where Congress convened on December 20th. It then returned to Philadelphia in March of 1777, then retreated again to Lancaster, Pennsylvania following Washington's defeat at the Battle of Brandywine later that year, and Congress convened at the Lancaster County Court House. Immediately after, on September 30th, it convened in York, on the far side of the Susquehanna River. Here it stayed for 9 months, approving the Articles of Confederation on November 15th, which basically formalized a loose association of the states to create the first federal government. In 1778, after the evacuation of the British, Congress returned to Philadelphia.

The paint surface is excellent, with significant alligatoring throughout in a manner that is very appealing to collectors and contributes in a strong way to the board's presentation. Losses and fading are modest. The most significant of this occurs in the area around the roses. Ironically, since flowers like these, painted in a realistic fashion, are not usually coveted by collectors of early American folk art, this is where paint loss has the least impact on this board. The roses add historical relevance, which is great and noted, but this is pretty much the extent of their impact. There is no in-painting or repainting and the surface is entirely original.

This can easily be placed among the great Parcheesi boards of 19th century America, with color, original surface and riveting design.

Condition: In addition to what is mentioned in the paragraph that immediately precedes, there were some nails added over time to the molding. These are old, tiny, minor, and have no impact whatsoever on value.
Primary Color: white, orange, green, blue
Earliest Date: 1880
Latest Date: 1889
For Sale Status: Sold
Price SOLD
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