Last updated on November 26, 2023
The Jaques of London 15-inch Mahogany Backgammon set is my current favourite and surprisingly the least expensive of my wooden sets. The first thing you notice upon receipt of this luxury backgammon set is the exquisite packaging. You have the outer protective cardboard box bound in a ribbon. The box and ribbon have tasteful Jaques branding. The next layer is the Jaques branded tissue paper. The wrapping itself is a work of art. It seems criminal to be tearing away at the paper, because of the amount of effort applied.
One thing I noticed on the paper, in writing, was the mention of the set being manufactured in the PRC (Peoples Republic of China). On the Jaques website, it suggests that the set was ‘finished by hand in the Jaques Woodcraft factory’. Therefore I suspect this means the bulk of the manufacturing occurred in China, with the final touches applied in the UK. The final touches could simply be the packaging, however as mentioned it is impressive. It’s a shame given that the company promotes its heritage of over two hundred years. I would happily pay a premium if I knew the set had been manufactured locally in a workshop with centuries of tradition.
On to the board itself. It comes in two flavours, mahogany or oak. Personally, I have chosen mahogany because of the way it ages. Its reddish-brown colour darkens over time and displays a reddish sheen when polished. This set will look better with age. The company states that the mahogany is sustainably sourced.
As stated on the Jaques website the frame is faithful to the original specifications used by Jaques for their quality backgammon sets for over two hundred years. The board itself is made with intarsia board inlays and each of the individual points has been perfectly fitted by hand. The construction is solid and the brass furnishings are a nice touch. There are no gaps or design flaws. The grain of the timber is clearly visible and the set closes and the latches shut easily. The board is also durable because there is no sign of damage or wear and tear after hundreds of games using this board.
The dimensions of this quality backgammon set when closed are: 5cm x 38cm x 29cm and open: 2.5cm x 38cm x 53cm (Height x Width x Depth). It weighs only 1.8kg, so although it is not a travel set as such, it is not difficult to transport. The handle is also useful as I like to play in my local cafes or pubs. The handle makes it easy to carry.
Inside the set, there are five plastic dice, two leatherette dice cups and a full set of wooden checkers. I replaced the dice in my set with some sustainably-sourced wooden dice. The leatherette cups are the weak point of this set and I had mine replaced with bespoke genuine leather dice cups. Also included with the set is a copy of the Rules of Backgammon by John Davidson. This makes it a perfect gift for novices because it will teach them the basics of how to play. Another nice touch is the Jaques branded linen bags, which are useful to stop the pieces rolling about when transporting the set. The checkers are wooden, plain and uninspiring. As a result, I replaced mine with a set of arts and crafts-styled checkers from GammonVillage.
For the money, £54.99 RRP at the time of writing, I don’t think you can get a better luxury backgammon set than the Jaques of London 15-inch mahogany. A good size at 15 inches, but portable and very well constructed. It is a truly deluxe piece that will last for generations and improve in character with age. I have used this backgammon set weekly for years and it is taking on a character of its own. The brass furnishings are slightly pitted, the playing field is flecked due to thousands of dice rolls and the leather dice cups are taking on a personality all of their own. I can’t wait to see what patina this backgammon set will acquire over the coming decades.
Manufacturer’s reference: ASIN B000GRUW1E