Wooden backgammon set found on a scrapheap by a woman 50 years ago and kept under her sofa is tipped to sell for £25,000 after it turned out to be a rare 16th century relic

  • The set was found in London in the sixties by the seller when she was young
  • Having kept it all her life, she recently took it to an auctioneer for valuation
  • The game set is made of rose wood and has the full complement of checkers
  • Experts believe the set was made in Augsburg, Germany, possibly for royalty

A wooden backgammon set found on a scrapheap 50 years ago is tipped to sell for around £25,000 after it turned out to be a rare 16th century relic.

The seller, who found the set in south east London when she was a child, kept hold of the antique all her life — having up until recently kept it stored under her sofa.

However, she recently took it — in a Waitrose shopping bag — to an auctioneer’s valuation day,  where antiques expert Tom Blest was left stunned after examining it.

He soon realised that the set was as good, if not better, than the only other of its kind still known to be in existence — which resides in the V&A Museum in London.

The seller reportedly reacted by ‘jumping up and down’ when she was told how much the valuable piece might be worth.

Scroll down for video

A wooden backgammon set found on a scrapheap 50 years ago is tipped to sell for around £25,000 after it turned out to be a rare 16th century relic

The seller, who found the set in south east London when she was a child, kept hold of the antique all her life — having up until recently kept it stored under her sofa

WHAT IS BACKGAMMON?

Backgammon is a game for two players, each of whom has 15 checkers.

It is a game both of skill and luck. 

These move around triangle-shaped points on the game, according to the roll of two die.

The aim is to move all your checkers around the board and then ‘bear them off’, removing them from play.

However, landing on an opponent’s single checker — or blot — sends the piece into the centre, or bar. 

This can delay the other player as they have to clear their checkers from the bar before they can proceed. 

Crafted from rose wood, the board is two feet (61 cm) wide, and is believed to date back to the 16th century. 

The intricate antique — which includes a complete set of 30 wooden checkers, each two inches (five cm) in diameter bearing the image of a person in 16th century dress — likely first belonged to a wealthy and important individual.

However, the set was found among a pile rubbish in south east London by a child in the 1960s — who took it home with her.

When the girl realised that its checkers were missing, she went back and found them too — keeping the set until now.

The backgammon set will be sold at Catherine Southon Auctioneers of Bromley, Kent, later this month. Mr Blest, who works as a valuer at the firm, described the vintage board game as an exciting discovery.

‘As soon as the vendor pulled the board from her bag, I recognised I had something of serious interest, but what I wasn’t expecting was to open the board and find a full set of counters,’ he said.

‘Whilst boards of this period have survived and are rare in themselves, it is quite remarkable to have one intact considering it is over 500 years old and was thrown out in the 1960s.’

‘The illustrative faces on the counters showing characters in contemporary dress are fascinating to look at and give us a real window into Tudor fashion as well.’

However, she recently took it — in a Waitrose shopping bag — to an auctioneer’s valuation day, where antiques expert Tom Blest was left stunned after examining it

He soon realised that the set was as good, if not better, than the only other of its kind still known to be in existence — which resides in the V&A Museum in London

Crafted from rose wood, the board is two feet (61 cm) wide, and is believed to date back to the 16th century. The intricate antique — which includes a complete set of 30 wooden checkers, each two inches (five cm) in diameter bearing the image of a person in 16th century dress — likely first belonged to a wealthy and important individual

Mr Blest believes that the backgammon set was created in Augsburg, southern Germany, possibly for the Habsburgs — the royal family of Austria.

‘It would have been a very expensive thing to buy and so would either have belonged to a rich merchant or someone in the Habsburg Court,’ he said.

‘It might have been exported at the time, but it is more likely that it arrived in Britain in the 19th century when there was interest in board games of this type.’

‘The vendor was thrilled and astonished when we identified it. She jumped up and down and couldn’t believe what I was saying.’

The backgammon set is scheduled to be sold on February 26, 2020.

The set was found among a pile rubbish in south east London by a child in the 1960s — who took it home with her. When the girl realised that its checkers were missing, she went back and found them too — keeping the set until now

The backgammon set will be sold at Catherine Southon Auctioneers of Bromley, Kent, later this month. Pictured, Catherine Southon poses with the 16th century board game

Mr Blest believes that the backgammon set was created in Augsburg, southern Germany, possibly for the royal family of Austria. ‘It would have been a very expensive thing to buy and so would either have belonged to a rich merchant or someone in the Habsburg Court,’ he said

Source: Read Full Article