Object of the Month

March Object of the Month: All in the Game!

sherlock holmes otm
March Object of the Month on display at Cheam Library

Our board game of the month, created by the Parker brothers in 1904 in the USA, was distributed to both New York and London, just after the release of ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ books. The aim of the game is to capture as many ‘Burglars’, ‘Robbers’ and ‘Thieves’ cards as possible, and to obtain the most valuable ‘Sherlock Holmes’ cards, which can be used to seize the playing cards of your opponents. The game is made for 3 to 8 players, who all play at once, and according to the instructions, ‘there is not a dull moment’!

Parker Brothers were an American game manufacturer, publishing more than 1,800 games since 1883. They produced not only this Sherlock Holmes game, but they are also to thank for many copies of Monopoly, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and Ouija. George S.Parker founded the company, although his brother Charles joined just 5 years later,when he was only 16 with the creation of a board game named ‘Banking’. The game was enjoyed so much by his family and friends that Charles urged him to publish it; he only sold 12 copies but still managed to make a profit of $100. Throughout his life, he emphasised that board games should be played solely for the enjoyment of the players, without needing to focus on values and morals.

The publishing of the game coincided with Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ in 1903-1904, therefore was likely to be popular amongst fans. This work consisted of the long-awaited return of Holmes after his death in the ‘Final Problem’, and was a collection of 13 stories covering his adventures. Clearly, the detective series has just as many people ‘Sherlocked’ today as it did when it was first released.

board games
Part of the collection of games shown as part of March Object of the Month at Cheam Library

Another game in our collection is one you won’t find in any shops today; ‘Spottit, the Great Geographical Game’. This ‘amusing, interest
ing, educational’ geographical board game was produced by C.W.Faulkner and Co in London, a company which opened in 1897.  They closed in 1956, having produced 64 board games, although they were a lot more popular for their postcards.

Due to the popularity of the game, multiple editions were produced adding Scotland and Ireland to the original maps and charts of England and Wales. To play the game an umpire is selected, who calls out the name of a town, which the players then have to locate on their maps, naming also what the town is famous for. For many, playing ‘Spottit’ was seen as just as good as a geography lesson, and much more exciting for the little ones!

Up next is the Multiplication Lotto board game revolves around math, arguably not the most exciting! It consists of three printed base cards and one home-made base card with pictures on, each with nine detachable pieces with parts of the picture on one side, and a multiplication on the other. These are held inside a shallow red cardboard box with a picture on the front.

Pages from inside ‘The Mother goose Postcard Painting Book’. Displayed at Cheam Library for March Object of the Month

Although not a board game, produced in Bavaria, a German state, in 1800, the Mother Good Postcard Painting Book is the oldest out of our collection. The book includes 4 postcards already painted which you are expected to copy to the best of your ability on 4 blank copies. This particular postcard book surrounds the imaginary book character, Mother Goose, who is included in various nursery rhymes and fairy tales. The name ‘Mother Goose’ has been synonymous with children’s poetry and stories ever since the first publication of Mother Goose stories in 1695 by Charles Perrault.

Last in our collection us a Bon Bon Assortis wooden box, filled with an assortment of wooden toys. Although these toys are held in a French sweet box, they definitely aren’t for eating! Wooden toys have been around for centuries, but they gained popularity in the 19th century. Many wooden toys, like the classic Jack-in-the-box, were hand painted with bright and vivid colours. Wooden trains, along with their wooden tracks, were one of the best selling toys during this time period. The toys in this wooden box range from animals, such as dogs, to little elegant ladies.

To see the March Object of the Month in person along with other unique line printing plates, please visit Whitehall’s free temporary display, Aim of the Game, on now through the end of the month at Cheam Library(Church Rd, Sutton SM3 8QH) during regular library opening hours.


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