Boards & boxes
Nov 25, 2009Public
Photo: CH359  Black 'Japanned' Papier-mâché board with 1.55in Mother-of-Pearl inlaid squares

The material is essentially paper, sometimes reinforced, and bound with a glue. For most of us, it is probably remembered from early school-days, but it was known in ancient Egypt.  In 1847 an Englishman patented a process for steaming and pressing panels of the material for use in an extremely wide range of items.

This board is probably from the latter era - sometime in the 2nd half of the C19th. The MOP inlay in the white squares makes it very difficult to get good photos!
Photo: CH359  

The MOP inlay coruscates in the light - and is terribly difficult to capture effectively. Needless to say, it looks far better in real life than I could make it look here.
Photo: CH10; English; Victorian board/box with 1.5in squares. Compare with the larger CH203.
Photo: CH10a; interior showing the backgammon board
Photo: CH203: English Victorian mahogany board, 2in squares, with backgammon board on the interior

A lager verson of CH10, above.
Photo: CH110; English board/box - 1.75in squares

I quite like this board with its lighter-than-usual colouring. It's a very heavy item, too.

As can be seen, the squares have holes in them to accomodate pegged pieces. But, is this sufficient to define it as part of a "ships' set"?
Photo: CH110; interior of the box showing the attractive backgammon board.

Note: (i) the holes for the pegged chess pieces come all the way through but do not align with the backgammon points. A similar board (see: also has the holes 'out of' allignment, as advised by Jon.  Odd - it does spoil the look (not to mention the efficacy) considerably. This seems to be the case with other "ships' boards"  I have heard of. However, I have recently seen one by a well-known maker where the alignment is perfect: is this just greater care taken or are the boards, such as that above, simply 'after-conversions' or 'fakes'? See CH305, as I have now acquired this H.Witty board.

Note: (ii) the catches for the fastener (see next image) protrude downwards (one-side can be moved up, but not the other) which means the board does not sit flat on a table or other large surface. Is this a later addition?
Photo: CH110; the substantial fastener - is this original to the set?
Photo: CH305 Marine/Ships board/box by Henry Whitty of Liverpool

2-inch square's. Note that the alignment of the playing surface is with the 'reserve' area in front of, rather than to the side of, the player - an arrangement more typical of pure draughts boards. Indeed, for a ship's peg set it is clear  these areas were never intended as capture-reserves, as, clearly, there are no holes to accommodate pegged pieces, whether chess or draughts - and the area is insufficient in size in any event.

Henry Whitty was the older brother of Richard Whitty, who (although there is as yet no conclusive evidence) has had a certain style of chessmen attributed to him. Richard operated from Tithebarn Street in Liverpool. Henry worked for Edmonson's Angling Depot at 15 Basnet Street, Liverpool. By the mid-1890's he had taken over that firm and expanded it's operations beyond the piscatorial. There seems no indication that Henry Whitty manufactured any items, and certainly not those such as the above, so:  who did?
Photo: CH305 Interior with backgammon board.

The playing surface is aligned at right-angles to that of the exterior chess-board (as it has to be to work sensibly for backgammon - creating a natural 'bar'), and all the holes are correctly lined up on the points. As more than 4 pieces can rest on any point, the holes continue into the central section. I have not seen a set with pegged draughts/backgammon counters to see if they could be stacked in some way.
Photo: CH305 close-up of centre of backgammon board

As can be seen, the holes do not go all the way through the board to the chess surface - which permits proper alignment here. It does result in a thicker board, which no doubt accounts for this board/box being heavier than my other seeming ships' box (see CH110).
Photo: CH305 H.Whitty & Son logo on my board/box - 

the inclusion of 'Son' marks this as a C20th board.
Photo: Henry Whitty logo on ship's board/box in another collection:
Note that this chess-board surface is aligned in the more-traditional way, with the reserve spaces towards the sides of the board.  

This still has the 'Son' but is a more elegant mark, I would think. This board, although different to mine, still has the same main characteristics, and the holes 'work' for both the inteior and exterior playing surfaces as do mine.
Photo: Tennis raquet (not owned) with Henry Whitty mark (the one on the left) - probably late C19th
Photo: Box board (not owned) bearing the stamp of R.Whitty of 14 Tithebarn St, Liverpool - brother of Henry.
Photo: CH13; English wooden, leather-covered  board; Victorian; 1.75in squares
Photo: CH13a  - interior showing backgammon board on printed paper lining
Photo: CH258;  board/box - 1.45in squares
Photo: CH258 - interior with paper backgammon board
Photo: CH131; modern compendium - late C20th - board is better than it looks here
Photo: CH191: rosewood board box - the underside of the board is a 10x10 square board
Photo: CH83; a lovely board with 0.5in squares; for primary use with pegged set but will suit others
Photo: CH83a - reverse of board
Photo: CH87; English board, mahogany and satinwood, 1.25in squares

Note the ring at the top, for wall etc hanging

This board looks really good with a set on it - far better than the above photo would indicate.