1750?/1970? Williamsburg Wooden Checkers. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Produced by The Charles H. Overly Studio, Harvard, Mass. Gift of the Lytton family, Dec., '84.

In these replicas of eighteenth-century wooden checkers, the black pieces may well illustrate the story of the stag whose antlers got caught in the trees. The "browns" certainly illustrate MSA. Notice the miller and son carrying the ass across the top of the piece. At the right, the two ride together, while onlookers on the left criticize them. "Esopus" marks both pieces.

Click on any of the items to see them enlarged.

1815? Le Jeu des fables, ou fables de LaFontaine mises en action. Avec figures coloriées et découpées, dessinées et gravées par Lambert ainé. Paris: Lambert. Received in trade from June Clinton, March, '93.

This set includes a small oblong booklet with fifteen of La Fontaine's fables and a concluding set of as many pictures. These latter give the pattern for use of a postcard-sized background-board with several small pocket-like openings for inserting figures--like the peacock and elephant here. There were originally some thirty-three figures, of which seventeen still remain in this set. Four of the scenes can still be reproduced entirely: 1, 2, 8, and 12. The figures are enclosed in a marbled envelope the same size as the booklet. There is a slip-case for the whole ensemble. My favorite private collector gives a date of 1820 and makes the publisher Alph. Giroux.

Click on the card to enlarge the view.

1860? "Loto des Fables de LaFontaine." Twenty-four stiff 4½" x 7¼" cards using illustrations after those of J.J. Grandville. $120 from François Binetruy, Versailles, France, through Ebay, Dec., '00.

The upper 2½" of each card is taken up with a good rendition after Grandville of an individual fable illustration over a block-print title. The lower 4¼" is taken up with La Fontaine's text and three columns of bingo-like numbers. (The middle column splits the text in cumbersome fashion.) Some cards have one or two footnotes on difficult or antiquated vocabulary. One of the twenty-four cards is outside the pattern. Its upper portion gives the game's title around a bust of La Fontaine, supported by a cabinet. At the center of this cabinet, which is flanked by a fox and a cat, stands "Regle." This card tells us that this "new" game differs from the old one only in its vertical rather than horizontal columns. Apparently, one agrees on the price of each card and pays for his/her cards. Then number-balls are drawn from a sack and called out. For a win, one needs to cover the five numbers in any one column. Unfortunately, there is no real connection between the fables and the game…. I remember seeing this gam--I cannot remember where--at a price I could not dream of. I think my favorite fable-collector picked up that copy. I am delighted to find this other copy now!

Click on either card to see them both enlarged.


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1965/1967 Il gioco delle favole (The Fable Game) by Enzo Mari. Seconda variante. Milan: Danese. Two exemplars, gifts of Kathryn Thomas and Mary Pat Ryan.

Twelve interlocking cards often with traditional combinations of characters on the same card (FC, OF, TH, WL). Obverse and verso of each card are mirror-symmetrical.


1965/1985 Il gioco delle favole (The Fable Game) by Enzo Mari. Quarta variante. Milan: Danese. $15 at Games People Play, Cambridge, MA, June, '91.

Six larger (slightly over 6" x 12") cards with all the figures from the second variant, now done with lively color. The cards again have traditional characters together, like the fox paired with both the crow and the stork on the sample card here.

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 1965/2007 Il gioco delle favole (The Fable Game) by Enzo Mari. Mantua: Corraini. $37.50 at Unicahome, Las Vegas, NE, March, '08.

This latest edition seems identical with the Fourth Variant from 1985.  Corraini did their first edition in 2004.  This is their third impression from 2007.  My, the price has gone up!

Click on the card to enlarge the view.


1978 "The Tortoise and the Hare" game. Made in USA. Girard, PA: Louis Marx Co. $2 from Connie Tibbitts, Providence, UT, through Ebay, March, '01.

This seems to be a simple game. The large stiff playing board includes a circular track, with a plastic ledge to insert as its inside rail. The wind-up tortoise moves around in a clockwise circular fashion to land on various squares. The game itself is in mint condition, though the box shows significant wear. There are instructions, four small rabbits, and even a decal!

Click on the box to see a larger version.


1980? Tortoise and Hare Checkers Board Game. Board, supporting base, instructions, and thirteen pieces each of tortoises and hares. Beige. About 12" square. The supporting base is broken. Hand-made in China. Hen-Feathers, King of Prussia, PA. $17.50 from ReturnBuy, Inc. through Ebay, May, '01.

I should have expected that someone would create a tortoises versus hares checkers game! This is a heavy set of pieces. The board has nice raised tortoise and hare motifs around its border, while the base has two sides depicting country roads. One of the curiosities of this item is that it misspells its own address as in "King of Prussla, PA."


Click on either the overview or the detail view to see it enlarged.

2000 "Hare and Tortoise" game. Author: David Parlett. Graphics: Franz Vohwinkel. English translation/editing: Jay Tummelson. Made in Germany. ©2000 Abacus Spiele Verlags KG. Rio Rancho, NM: Rio Grande Games. $18 from Ronald Charity, Cleveland Heights, OH, through Ebay, Sept., '00.

Here is an unopened race game with the cellophane wrap still intact. The bottom of the box announces proudly that in 1979, "Hare and Tortoise" was chosen as the first "Spiel des Jahres" winner. The hare on the cover features an earring, but so far back in his long ear that you might not notice it!

Click on the box to see a larger version.