Museums with Games and other Public / Private Collections of Games

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For those interested in games, there are a multitude of collections, both official and private all over the world. Our list of game collections is not exhaustive - if you know of more collections, libraries or museums featuring a significant games element, please let us know.

National Museum Local Museum Library Company Owned Private Collection Other All

 

National Museum

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
Atlas van Stolk, Holland.The Atlas Van Stolk is a collection of over 150,000 prints and drawings. Laid out in chronological order, they would make, as it were, a documentary showing the history of the Netherlands. There is an English version - click on the Union flag. Search for 'spel'.Atlas van Stolk
Collections of The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield VillageLocated at Dearborn, Michigan, USA. www.thehenryford.org The collections searched online for board game showed about 240 entries mainly American games but a few British including Darton’s Elephant and Castle game with an interesting Solitaire? shown in the same picture.The Henry Ford Museum1 Examples
Deutches Speilearchiv NurnbergA massive archive of games, mainly German from 1940's to datehttp://www.spielearchiv.nuernberg.de
Elliott Avedon MuseumIts archive of more than 5000 objects and a large number of documents about games, includes "the world's largest collection of Crokinole boards". Several online exhibits including useful archived papers on line which include several of Stewart Culin's scarce publications. Formerly at the University of Waterloo, Ontario; now moved to the Canadian Museum of History. According to Wikipedia Nov 2018, the accompanying website (virtual exhibition) of more than 700 pages is still hosted on the University website but as at Nov 2018, this was not easily found.
JocondeCatalogue des collections des musees de France. Click on 'Recherche avancée' (Advanced Search) and search for 'Jeu'.Joconde
Musée Suisse du Jeu, La Tour-de-Peilz, SwitzerlandA large international collection of games directed by Ulrich Staedler. Probably the only dedicated games museum in the world. The Museum is situated in a handsome castle at the edge of Lake Geneva.The Swiss Museum of Games
Museu del Joguet de CatalunyaThe Museum´s exhibits include over 4.000 items; mostly toys but including "games our grandparents played" and games for the blind. The website doesn't mention games much but pictures of games from the museum are evident on the web and so there must be a significant archive.Museu del Joguet de Catalunya
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, AustraliaSearch on 'board game'. Moderate quality images, not legible. Several modern games. Some rare Australian material, e.g Race to the Gold Diggings (page also lists 'games' within 'toys'):
The British MuseumThe two high profile jewels in the crown here are the Royal Game of Ur (yes, the real thing) and the Lewis Chessmen but there are many ancient games from ancient civilisations and more modern times. Gaming matters at the British Museum tend to be overseen by the inimitable Irving Finkel. An extremely successful travelling exhibition "Across the Board" was enthusiastically staged in 2005/6 by Irving Finkel including board games from ancient Rome Egypt and India and from around the world throughout the ages.The British MuseumBritish Museum Collections Database2 Examples
The Edinburgh Museum of ChildhoodThe Edinburgh Museum has an archive of around 300 old games, mostly in archive not on display. Most have had a brief examination by us, and some notes of archive location made.137 Examples
The Flemish Games ArchiveA non-profit organization for board and company games, domestic and foreign. A collection of over 20,000 games, hundreds of books and magazines housed in the VIVES Game Archives and can be studied by appointment. Including the collection of Dutch games collector, Fred Horn.The Flemish Games Archive1 Examples
The Museum of Childhood at Bethnal GreenPart of the V & A, it has a display of boxed and other Victorian and later indoor games. The digital catalogue is hosted by the V and A.Museum of Childhood Games CollectionV & A Games Collection Database
The Museum of LondonHolds some equipment that used to be used for the game of Pall Mall - played in Pall Mall. And at least a few other gaming items. London made puzzles and games are held. An exhibition of Dissected Puzzles was held there, preceding publication of Linda Hannas's definitive work.Museum of London1 Examples
The National Trust Museum of Childhood (Sudbury Hall)The National Trust has items from more than 200 properties and many of them are games. A lot of these are now under the auspices of their Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall. Their main collections database online gives access to all these items. If you enter the word Game in the box showing Collections, Places, Articles you get about 7,500 results!Sudbury Hall & Museum of ChildhoodNational Trust Collections Database9 Examples
The Victoria and Albert MuseumOne of the most important collections of British toys includes many games, some rare. Go to Collections on the V & A website then Search the Collections with "game" you get hundreds of results. Also research in the Map Library is said to be fruitful.The V & AV & A Collections archive58 Examples

 

Local Museum

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
Hull Municipal Gallerysee Whitehouse Table Games of Georgian and Victorian Days p. 811 Examples
Norfolk Museums ServiceHouses a good collection of games, puzzles and educational toys, many of which are described in the catalogue Toy With The Idea published in 1980. The website has an image database.Norfolk Museums Collections6 Examples
Worthing MuseumA visit is planned to record briefly what items of special interest they hold.
York Museums TrustThe York Museums have games, dissections etc. as part of Social History Collections. Some should are viewable online, but we were unable to search all easily when we tried. May be worth an enquiry before visit as many items are in archive in addition to thse on display.https://yorkmuseumstrust.org.uk

 

Library

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
The Bodleian LibraryThe Bodleian Library collections include the H.J.R. Murray Papers and the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (which in our site has a separate Collection entry). More detailed information on the games content of The Bodleian, and specifically the John Johnson Collection, can be seen in a fuller note by clicking on The Bodleian Library in the Name column here. The recent additions mean that the Bodleian is probably now one of the nation's largest archives of British printed games from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.The BodleianThe Oxford Digital Library13 Examples
The British LibraryThe Britsh Library's Map Room holds a fair number of geographical games, mostly map-based, and the map-room collection can be searched separately by selecting 'cartographic items' from the catalogue subset menu on the website (although there are no images). The British Library incorporates the National Archive of Newspapers and periodicals at Colindale.The British Library
The Cotsen Collection, Princeton UniversityEighteenth and nineteenth century British games form part of the Cotsen Collection of Children's Literature at Princeton University. A catalogue is being prepared by the Librarians.Cotsen Children's Library
The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera (Bodleian)One of the most important collections of printed ephemera in the world assembled by John de Monins Johnson between c.1923 and 1956. The majority of material is British and dates from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. There are over 1 million items in the original collection but additions have been made since. Most printed games, toys and puzzles from the Ballam collection are being added to the catalogue there, as are the Donald Welsh collection of Card Games and Playing Cards, and the Mary Gardner Collection of Happy Families card games. There is more detail in the Detailed Information note for the Bodleian Library (see above)bodleian.ox.ac.uk/johnson28 Examples
The Osborne Collection at the Toronto LibraryThe Osborne book collection at Toronto Public Library includes a good collection of table games and puzzles for children some exhibited and catalogued in 1997 under the title “Ingenious Contrivances” by Jill Shefrin.The Osborne Collection11 Examples
The Parker Collection of GamesHeld at Birmingham Central Library. Games are gradually being catalogued.Birmingham Library9 Examples
UCLA Childrens Books collectionHas at least two important British items Wooden boxes Cabinet of Fishes and Cabinet of Various Objects by Marshallwww.library.ucla.edu1 Examples

 

Company Owned

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
The Norman Clare Billiards & Snooker CollectionE.A. Clare, the owners of Thurstons have a private museum at their premises featuring an amazing array of Billiards and Snooker equipment going back centuries. Contains some remarkable items including a hexagonal Billiard table! Can be viewed by appointment with Peter Clare, the altruist son of Norman Clare, now semi-retired [Nov 2018].Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection
The US Playing Card Co. card gamesA very important collection many from the collection of George Clulow, F.R.G.S.7 Examples

 

Private Collection

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
Clulow CollectionAn important collection of card games from the collection of George Clulow, F.R.G.S., is listed in A History of Playing Cards by Catherine Hargrave, 1930, Dover Edition 1966. Held by the USPCC.20 Examples
Spears Games ArchiveAn important archive of mainly British items made by the Spear Company (see Maker Spear). When Francis Spear left the company in 1986 the examples of former products were moved to a specially adapted outbuilding at his home and made available for public view by appointment. The mostly American members of AGPC (now Association for Games and Puzzles International) held their annual convention in London in 2005, and a visit to the Archive was included as well as a visit to view the Ballam collection. Subsequently Francis welcomed a visit from members of our group. The collection of old catalogues (Trade Lists) is particularly interesting, and Francis kindly donated a copy of the earliest c1903 to the Ballam collection. We have no recent information of the whereabouts of the Archive or of arrangements to view.
The Ballam CollectionRichard Ballam's collection of mainly British manufactured games toys and puzzles. Noteable for games 1750-1950, but not attemping to be comprehensive for “linen back” games (for better information see the Website www.giochidelloca.it) or card games. It includes related items which are not games, particularly an important collection of Dissected Puzzles (jigsaw type) by the game makers and a similar collection of educational toys and children’s books of the same period. Most of the printed items from the collections have been added to the John Johnson collection of ephemera at the Bodleian and are being added to the catalogue there, where they are accessible and are being used by the University History Faculty.2181 Examples
The Hannas CollectionLinda Hannas amassed a huge collection of early games in addition to her collection of jigsaw puzzles. On 26/27 July 1984 most were sold at Sotheby’s, Bloomfield Place, London, and the sale catalogue gives good information.65 Examples
The Opie CollectionSee Treasures of Childhood by Iona and Robert Opie and Brian Alderson. The Opies' important collection of childrens' books was transferred to the Bodleian Library but their collection of games was not included in the transfer.4 Examples
The Whitehouse CollectionWe have not discovered the present location of the late Col. Whitehouse's collection of Board and Table Games, but in his book "Table Games of Georgian and Victorian Days", Peter Garnett Ltd 1951, later edition Priory Press 1971, information is given of all the games of the period 1750-1850 he was able to locate. We will be treating those he was able to locate as Examples for our database and will add those we do not have a record of.1 Examples

 

Other

NameDescriptionMain WebsiteOther WebsiteExamples in GARD
Gakugei University, JapanOver 100 images of SugorokuSugoroku
Miscellaneous - publicUnrestricted miscellaneous items38 Examples
Rothschild Collection of French boardgames 1675-1820Kept at Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury. Several are illustrated in the Introduction to Play the Game by Brian Love, 1978 and 1984
Sebina OPACIstituto per i beni artistici, culturali e naturali della Regione Emilia-Romagna. Medium (100k) quality saveable images of many goose-type games principally in the Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna Search on gioco in the titolo field (489 entries returned as at June 2008) then click each page for oggetti digitali (about half had been digitised in June 2008)Sebina OPAC

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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