Last updated on April 14, 2021
This post is with thanks to our friends at Christopher Clarke Antiques, specialists in campaign furniture.
Occasionally at Deluxe Backgammon, we like to look at something different. This post is dedicated to a backgammon set we saw on the Christopher Clarke Antiques website, a superb antique backgammon travel set that would have been used by, most likely, a British Army Officer on a campaign.
Campaign furniture refers to an item of furniture that has been specifically made to break down or fold for ease of travel. As a result, it was commonly associated with British Army Officers, as they required portable furnishings whilst on military campaigns. Because these officers generally came from wealthy backgrounds they could afford the finer things in life, such as games sets. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the British Empire was expanding and army officers were on the move around the world. This created a high demand for pieces of furniture that were both mobile and practical. Included in these pieces were items such as games sets that provided officers with a pastime that could be enjoyed whilst away from home.
Jaques B.C.D board
In today’s post, we are going to look at an antique (Circa 1870) Jaques of London portable B.C.D travel set. B.C.D. stands for Backgammon, Chess and Draughts and the travelling set provides all 3 games in a single compact unit. Of all of the antique travel game sets, we have viewed this has to be one of the best backgammon sets. It has age, patina and the signs of a well-used item. It’s easy to imagine this backgammon set having been part of a British Officers kit during the First Boer War.
For portability, these sets were made using a thin leather two-sided board, which compromises the durability of the set. Although it was strengthened by the metal bars, it is still common for these surviving backgammon sets to have minor damage to the leather. This set is no exception and there are a number of holes in the material, especially along the edges. Along with this, the numbers from the bone dice are completely worn away, as such a good indication it was well-used. At Deluxe Backgammon we think this adds to the charm of this piece as it indicates it was well-used. The set is decorated with gilt tooling to the checker’s tube, dice cups and the board. The leather board has the backgammon points on one side, and the chess squares on the other.
Dimensions, when packed: H 5.5cm x W 21.5cm x D 5.5cm.
The set consists of boxwood and ebony checkers which are turned on one side for backgammon and draughts. The other side has a two-dimensional chess piece. These are used on a two-sided thin leather board which has flat metal bars inserted along the edges for rigidity. The checkers and dice are stored in a leather tube. The board is then folded in half and rolled around the tube to be secured in place by the two leather dice cups. The whole set can then be slipped inside the leather edged, canvas-on-card outer tube.
It is hard to fault this antique Jaques B.C.D set. Because of its character and the evidence of continual use, this must be one of the best backgammon travel-sets available right now. It would serve well as a purely decorative piece, or with some replacement dice, a useable, but delicate backgammon set. We would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this piece as a Deluxe Backgammon set. Decorative, practical and beautiful, it would make a sound investment. Priced at £325 at the time of writing. We hope to review more antique backgammon sets from Christopher Clarke Antiques in the near future.