Handmade Gameboards Add Art and Entertainment

Antique handmade game boards are popular as decorations in homes filled with folk art. Most are for chess or checkers, and the square boards look important in a group on the wall. But there are also game boards that are other shapes. The game “Pope Joan” was popular in the 18th century and still is popular in some countries. The rules for the game first appeared in Hoyle’s rule book in 1826. Three to eight people may play on a circular board with eight round “wells” surrounding a center well that holds game pieces. Four picture cards, plus four others called Matrimony, Pope, Intrigue and Game, were used. The winner was the player who ran out of cards first. An elaborate Pope Joan board was sold at a James D. Julia auction a few years ago for $1,000. The board was 12 1/2 inches in diameter and was painted green and red. Playing cards were painted around the center well. Look for other game boards, even printed ones with interesting graphics, from the 1930s and after. Do not hang them in the sun because printing, especially from the 1940s and 50s, will fade to blue.


Q: My parents bought a home in Florida and purchased the contents, including an interesting table. They used it as a lamp table. The top flips to one side, doubling its surface, and can be raised for storage. Open, it measures 17 inches high by 34 inches square. A label reads “Williams-Kimp Furniture Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.” Could you tell me the purpose, age and value of this table?

A: Game tables were popular during the 18th and 19th centuries — first in England, and then in the United States. Cabinetmakers designed clever tables suitable for writing letters and for pastimes like playing cards, chess or backgammon. The tables looked like regular tables when not in use. Some had a hinged top that folded, swiveled or slid open to reveal a playing surface. Others had a game board inlaid on top. The Williams-Kimp Furniture Co. started in Grand Rapids in 1923. It was purchased by Baker Furniture in 1951. The company made reproductions of American Federal furniture including dining sets, secretaries, desks, chairs and pieces like your game table. Your table is worth about $175 to $225.

Q: How can I find the value on a set of Marx & Gutherz fish plates? They are marked with a circular red mark that says: “Marx & Gutherz, Carlsbad.”

A: Maximilian Marx and Oscar Gutherz began working together in Altrohlau, Bohemia (now Stara Role, Czech Republic) around 1876. The company was financed by L. Straus & Sons, an importer in New York City. Marx sold his interest in the company to Oscar’s brother, Edgar, in 1898, and the company name became Oscar & Edgar Gutherz. Porcelain production began, and both decorated and undecorated wares were exported to the United States. This mark was used from 1876 until about 1889. Value of a fish platter and 12 plates is about $750, depending on appeal of the design.

Q: I have an oval casserole dish with a lid. I don’t know much about it. I’m thinking it’s from the 1800s. It’s marked “J & E Mayer” and “Underglaze Amherst.” It’s white with a green ivy-like pattern and gold accents. A few people have told me it’s valuable. Can you tell me anything about it?

A: J & E Mayer was founded in 1881 by Joseph and Ernest Mayer in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. After 1912, most of the dinnerware was made for restaurants, railroads, airlines, ships and the military. The company was renamed Mayer China Co. in 1923. It continued under different owners until 2003. Your casserole is probably restaurant china and sells for less than $50.

Tip: To clean wax from glass candlesticks, scrape with a wooden stick, then wash off the remaining wax with rubbing alcohol.

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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

World’s Fair needle case, 1892, Chicago, Columbian expo, barrel shape, 2 inches, $70.

Cinnabar box, round, lidded, fruit, insects, leaves, vines, 5 x 2 1/2 inches, $125.

Cloisonne teapot, dragon, clouds, flowers, waves, swing handle, red, blue, 7 x 7 1/2 inches, $195.

Coronation cup, Czar Nicholas II, enamel,

crest, red, blue, 1896, 4 inches, $285.

Dresser, pine, stained, 3 banks of 9 drawers, turned knobs, 33 x 84 inches, $375.

Liverpool jug, Washington Memorial, winged eagle, grape cluster, ribbon, 9 1/2 x 10 inches, $780.

Quilt, appliqued, patchwork, North Carolina lily, red and yellow flowers, green stems, white ground, 81 x 63 inches, $1,640.

Kiddush cup, silver, tripod, round bowl, Kurt Matzdorf, 6 inches, $2,880.

Newcomb vase, landscape, trees, moss, full moon, blue, green, cream, 1902, 5 3/4 inches, $3,120.

Sevres-style Jardiniere, bowl, stand, gilt, cobalt blue, picnic, landscape, house, porcelain, 20 x 27 inches, $5,040.