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» Marine » All » Sailor’s Folk Art Game of Recluse, Late 18th or Early 19th Century.

Sailor’s Folk Art Game of Recluse, Late 18th or Early 19th Century.

Price: $1,825.00

Sailor’s Folk Art Game of Recluse, Late 18th or Early 19th Century.

An antique hand carved sailor’s game of Recluse or Solitaire, dating from the late 18th or early 19th Century, comprising a carved paddle-shaped tropic wood board with fluted edge, 37 holes with inlaid veneer, and a sliding drawer beneath to hold the 36 carved bone pegs. The board is quite stylish, fancier than most, and appears to be made of some type of mahogany, or possibly rosewood.  Seven of the thin veneered disc “escutcheons” surrounding the peg holes have been lost. The pegs vary in shape, and clearly indicate that there have of course been losses and replacements over the years as would be expected. The grain of the bones pegs vary from quite smooth and plain, to very busy with much dark specking from vascularization. The game is complete and in great condition, other than what has been noted above. This is a very scarce and beautiful piece of Scrimshaw.

Board measures 9 1/8 in L x 5 1/8 in W x 1 in H, and the pegs vary from ¾ to 7/8 in L

Recluse dates back to at least 1697 and has been documented in the court of Louis XIV. Its origins remain a mystery: the English referred to it as “The French Game” and called it Solitaire, while the French thought it came from England. The game was extremely popular, especially among travelers and of course sailors. Not surprisingly its use spread around the world. The standard English game had 33 holes arranged in a four-lobed cross pattern and the boards were sometimes cruciform, while the French version had 37 holes arranged in a circle and the boards were round or sometimes paddle shaped with a handle, as seen here. Continental variations ran from 15 to 45 holes.

The game was set with a peg in every hole but the center one, and played by jumping adjacent pegs akin to checkers, until only one peg was left on the board. It is interesting to note that while the English version could be won in as little as 18 moves, the French style actually had no solution… it was impossible to achieve only one surviving peg!

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