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Marble Pinball C. 1930


®The awareness that manufactured games were readily available at this time makes Shaver’s collection all the more intriguing, revealing the fact that the making of these game boards was itself a popular pastime. The book covers the full spectrum, from simple boards made by folks who may not have had enough money for store-bought games, to sophisticated boards made by professional sign painters and the like to showcase their skill.

®In a way, the rise of hobby game board making mirrors the rise of recreational quilting in America. Whereas quilting, with its sewing and domesticity, appealed to women of the time, gaming, involving competition and pursuit, was a man’s realm. But they both spring from a common desire to create and are a window into the daily lives and pastimes of yesteryear. Interestingly, quilts and game boards speak a similar visual language. The utilization of color and shape to create a cohesive whole, the way the colors and shapes interact, and the repeated patterns are remarkably similar and betray an eye for graphic design.

®Looking through Shaver’s collection, one is struck the quality of the game boards. They were light years beyond what, functionally, they had to be. Through the artistic details and overall balance of the painting shines true dedication and pride. One can imagine the hours these boards spent sitting on parlor tables or on barrels in country stores as game pieces moved leisurely over them.

             ®Shaver was first drawn to these handmade boards some fifteen years ago because of his background. “I grew up on a farm in North Carolina. Entertainment was something you had to come up with yourself,” remembers Shaver. “The first board I ever bought was a simple checker board that reminded me of my childhood.” What makes this collection so special is the range of responses it produces. For Shaver, these boards conjure up very personal memories, for others they may evoke a nostalgic lost era of American history and Culture. Either way, they continue to intrigue and fascinate with their endless colors and hidden histories.      

There is simply something about them that refuses to fit into market niches and be treated as merchandise. Perhaps this is because there is something almost haunted about them, as in all things people leave behind. It is the hours put into making and using these games and the secret stories they have to tell which make the collection so arresting and imaginations start to turn.

--   e --
The Art of the Game

A Collection of Vintage Game Boards

From the collection of Selby Shaver
A book by Tim Chambers

 Game boards of the 19th and early 20th centuries could easily be dismissed as naïve attempts to amuse previous generations. Often upon closer examination of pieces from the past we not only gain appreciation for the effort put forth; we recognize the progression from past to present. Perhaps at no other time in history have the graphic arts played a more integral part in every day life as they do today. From a myriad of images used to entice consumers to the nearest computer monitor, the vehicle used is graphic art. An art not lost to those of an earlier time who sought to create diversion with panache.

The Art of the Game provides an eclectic journey through the graphic art of vintage game boards. It is the culmination of one collector’s attraction to the visual diversity captured in these otherwise simpler pastimes. Originally intended to provide entertainment for a select few, they are now presented to the audience they merit. And just as they were intended to provide hours of enjoyment, they continue to beckon those who delight in their appeal.

This 215 page hardback book contains 189 color plates and is complete with a color index. The book is $90 plus shipping and handling. For ordering information, please call author Tim Chambers at 573-471-6949.




Parcheesi C. 1930

Parcheesi-1st Quarter
20th Century

Backgammon C. 1920

Checkerboard C. 1919

Parcheesi - Late 19th Century