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What is the difference between Parquetry and Marquetry?

Last updated on July 3, 2022

Marquetry and parquetry are both terms associated with wood-crafted backgammon sets. You will see both terms used on this website to describe the way wooden backgammon sets are made. Marquetry is the most common of the two methods used for backgammon sets. When we refer to an inlaid piece, such as a point, we are normally referring to marquetry. This is a brief article to explain the difference between the two methods.

Parquetry

The use of wood pieces in geometric patterns to create a decorative effect is called parquetry.  It is commonly used in both furnishing and flooring. The method dates back to the mid to late 1600s. It is recognisable for its highly regular, geometric patterns. Strips or blocks of wood are cut into squares, triangles or lozenges. The pieces are then glued together to form geometric shapes. The most common form of parquetry is almost certainly the herringbone or chevron pattern.

Often different coloured woods, such as oak, walnut, olive, mahogany and maple are used in parquetry to enhance the patterns.  The varying colours, tones and grains of the different woods add to the overall effect of the parquetry method.  The parquetry method might be used to create an entire backgammon cabinet or a lid. For example, in the Dal Negro Luxury Wooden Backgammon set – London.

Parquetry design, Dal Negro London..
Parquetry design, Dal Negro London.

Marquetry

Marquetry is the more commonly used construction method for backgammon sets. It involves the addition of pieces of veneer to create a decorative pattern, which sits on top of the original structure. The veneer can be wood, but it could also include other materials such as tortoiseshell, mother of pearl, pewter or brass. Marquetry as a construction method dates back thousands of years to the Roman era. The playing field and the inlaid points of backgammon sets are often created using marquetry.

Marquetry is often confused with parquetry. In reality, they are very different. As explained above, the main difference is that marquetry is the addition of a veneer to a smooth surface. Whereas parquetry is the creation of a piece using blocks or strips of wood.

Marquetry playing field, Dal Negro York.
Marquetry playing field, Dal Negro York.

We hope that this article helps to explain how your Deluxe Backgammon set was made.

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