Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Antiques PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams Chess Playing Cards and Games Sale

Bonhams announces the sale of an extremely rare game, ‘The Game of War’ to be sold on the 13th October 2010 in Knightsbridge in the Chess, Playing Cards and Games auction.

Dating from 1890, this intricate 600 piece game is estimated to sell for £1,500-£2000, and was designed to train British army officers at a time of uncertainty in the years leading up to the outbreak of The First World War in 1914. It was common knowledge that War was coming, but no-one could predict exactly when. As a result, the armies spent their summers at camp, in effect playing war-games, and training for the big European war that was on the horizon.

During this period, tactics had barely changed since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the horse still played a major role on the battlefield. The Game of War, however, includes six machine gun units. As history shows us, the use of the machine gun and emphasis on mechanized defence was going to have a devastating effect on the trench warfare that was to come. Infantry, mounted cavalry and horse artillery are also included in the game, demonstrating the unforeseen part the machine gun was to play.

The game is played on a map drawn on a scale of 6 inches to the mile, and the troops are indicated by small slate blocks, coloured red for one force, and blue for another. It is a later British version of “Kriegsspiel”, a war-game originally invented by Lieutenant Georg von Reiswitz in the early 19th century for training officers in the Prussian army.

Luke Honey, Bonhams Chess and Games consultant comments: “This is a rare and superb example of a late 19th century war-game used to train British army officers in military manoeuvres. It gives us a fascinating insight into the tactics of the period, which, ultimately culminated in the tragedy of the First World War.”

Bonhams is the only International Auction House holding dedicated sales of Chess and Games on a regular basis. The sales are held a twice a year, at Knightsbridge, London saleroom.

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