Museums with Games and other Public / Private Collections of Games


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

Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples 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 Village Located at Dearborn, Michigan, USA. 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 Museum 1 Examples
Deutches Speilearchiv Nurnberg A massive archive of games, mainly German from 1940's to date
Elliott Avedon Collection Its 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 some of Stewart Culin's scarce publications. Formerly at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, the physical collection was transferred to the Canadian Museum of History in 2010. However, the University of Waterloo continues to maintain the online 'virtual exhibition' of the collection which is called the Elliott Avedon Virtual Museum of Games. Elliott Avedon Virtual Museum of Games
Joconde Catalogue des collections des musees de France. Click on 'Recherche avancée' (Advanced Search) and search for 'Jeu'. Joconde
London Guildhall Library The playing card guild has a nice selection of board game prints (poster sized sheets of various boardgames from 17th and 18th century) City of London Guildhall
Musée Suisse du Jeu, La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland A large international collection of games directed by Ulrich Schaedler. Probably the only dedicated games museum in the world and a rare treat. The Museum is situated in a handsome castle at the edge of Lake Geneva. The Swiss Museum of Games 10 Examples
Museu del Joguet de Catalunya The 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, Australia Search 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 Museum The 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 Museum British Museum Collections Database 2 Examples
The Edinburgh Museum of Childhood The 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. 136 Examples
The Flemish Games Archive A 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 Archive 1 Examples
The Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green Part 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 Collection V & A Games Collection Database
The Museum of London Holds 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 London 1 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 Childhood National Trust Collections Database 9 Examples
The Victoria and Albert Museum One 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 & A V & A Collections archive 63 Examples


Local Museum

Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
Colchester and Ipswich Museums Collection There is an online catalogue which includes some games. 8 Examples
Hull Municipal Gallery see Whitehouse Table Games of Georgian and Victorian Days p. 81 1 Examples
Norfolk Museums Service Houses 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 Collections 6 Examples
Worthing Museum A visit is planned to record briefly what items of special interest they hold.
Wycombe Museum In High Wycombe, Bucks. Wycombe Museum
York Museums Trust The 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.



Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
Ballam in John Johnson Collection at Bodleian A major part of the Ballam Collection (mostly printed items) has been donated to the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library. Items retained by Richard Ballam can be found in the "Private Collection" section of this database. The Ballam Collection focuses mainly on British manufactured games toys and puzzles, especially between 1750 and 1950. It does not attempt to be comprehensive for “linen back” games (for better information see the Website or card games. It includes related items which are not games, particularly an important collection of Dissected Puzzles (jigsaw type) by game makers and a similar collection of educational toys of the same period. Cataloguing of the Ballam Collection at the Bodleian is almost complete. Records can be found at (browse, set scrollbar to title). 1662 Examples
The Bodleian Library The 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 Bodleian Digital Bodleian 14 Examples
The British Library The 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. It also holds volumes of uncatalogued game rules submitted as copyright deposit. The surviving ones (there was bomb damage) date mostly from 1882. Photographs of some of these, and of some catalogued games, have been taken to be added to this database, on the understanding these are for personal research only. The British Library 131 Examples
The Cotsen Collection, Princeton University Eighteenth 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. It includes the Donald Welsh collection of Card Games and Playing Cards, and the Mary Gardner Collection of Happy Families card games. It also includes games puzzles and toys from the Ballam Collection, which have a separate collection entry in this database. There is more detail in the Detailed Information note for the Bodleian Library (see above) 29 Examples
The National Archives Image Library Images of games and box labels deposited for copyright and stored in COPY 1 click on image library search Games 89 Examples
The Osborne Collection at the Toronto Library The 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 Collection 12 Examples
The Parker Collection of Games Held at Birmingham Central Library. Games are gradually being catalogued. Birmingham Library 9 Examples
UCLA Childrens Books collection Has at least two important British items Wooden boxes Cabinet of Fishes and Cabinet of Various Objects by Marshall UCLA Library 1 Examples
University of Columbia, N.Y. Two resources at the University with important information and Examples of games are the Teachers' College Library and the Children's Historical Collections


Company Owned

Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
The Norman Clare Billiards & Snooker Collection E.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 games A very important collection many from the collection of George Clulow, F.R.G.S. 7 Examples
Worshipful Company of Playing Card Makers (WCPCM) A wonderful collection of Playing Cards including some card games, all illustrated in the site with informative notes by John Berry. There are many English illustrated suited packs shown most of which are not included in Gard database. WCMPC site 18 Examples


Private Collection

Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
Anonymous Z Wonderful very large collection of all manner of games but particularly concentrating on card games and gaming counters 10 Examples
Ayres A private collection of Ayres games collected by a member of the Ayres family 26 Examples
Ballam (Not in John Johnson Collection at Bodleian) Part of Richard Ballam’s Collection still held privately and not included in the transfer to John Johnson collection at Bodleian Library (so not available for call up there). For more detail see the other part now in Library collections in this database. In Gard but not at Bodleian 623 Examples
Brian Love Collection An important selection of Chad Valley board games from this collection was exhibited at Museum of Childhood, Bethnall Green, from 16 Dec 1980 to 1 March 1981. Many are illustrated, with games from other makers, in the two books by Brian Love, Great Board Games and Play the Game 15 of the box lids are illustrated on the poster advertising the exhibition. Current whereabouts unknown but it is reported that the company’s archive collection, which Brian Love had access to for his publications, was cleared out when the company changed hands. 32 Examples
Clulow Collection An 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
Collection de jeux anciens An astonishingly large and high quality collection of games from French collector, Laurent Bodart in St. Omer. It's difficult to know where to start but particularly stunning are the Jeu de cafe (bar games), Jeu de table (table games) and the huge variety of Quilles (skittles), all of which have more than 100 examples shown. The Table A Toupie collection and the remarkable array of crossbows, darts are also highlights. Collection de jeux anciens
Collection De Jeux Anciens (Allain Rabussier) A wonderful collection of colourful French games from the period 1820-1920 catalogued with illustrations in a website with the ability to search by Maker and by Game Type by selecting in the Pages column. Said to come from the collection of Alain Rabussier. Jeux Anciens De Collection
Lewin War Games Chris Lewin's book War Games and their History, Fonthill Media, 2012, includes details of many War Games some manufactured in Britain, with illustrations, which are assumed to be from his private collection. The British ones have been added to this database. 43 Examples
Michael Thomson's Collection Michael Thomson's main project is to record the story of the firm of Jaques founded in 1795 and still existing today. It is built round research derived from source data including Design Registrations, Patents, Trade Marks and Copyright records; advertisements and editorial articles in magazines and newspapers; Jaques' catalogues from 1862 to the 20th century; and records held by the Jaques' company and family and their many friends who contributed in a variety of ways to the creation of the games they made. Many of Jaques games became very well known worldwide including The Staunton Chessmen from 1849, Happy Families (1861), Snap (1864), Croquet (1864), Tiddledy Winks (1888) and Gossima or Ping Pong (from 1891 to early 20th Century). They also created numerous other innovative and imaginative games throughout the Victorian era. His collection of some 800 items is an integral part of his research providing actual examples of most of the games they made. 8 Examples
Mike Thompson Collection An impressive list of over 400 games, mainly 1930-1970, and most in good condition was offered in November 2020. Permission was kindly given by Mike Thompson for his illustrations to be used in return for an acknowledgement to his website 80 Examples
Spears Games Archive An 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 are told the collection is now at the Nurnberg Museum in Germany. Some mainly German items are illustrated in the publcation Games We Play, Schwartz and Faber 1997, Spear Charitable Trust in association with Spear's Charitable Trust, ISBN 3-921590-50-7
The Hannas Collection Linda 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. 63 Examples
The Opie Collection See 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 Collection We 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 have added to the database those we do not have a record of elsewhere. 13 Examples



Name Description Main Website Other Website Examples in GARD
Gakugei University, Japan Over 100 images of Sugoroku Sugoroku
Miscellaneous - public Unrestricted miscellaneous items 48 Examples
Rothschild Collection of French boardgames 1675-1820 Kept at Waddesdon Manor, near Aylesbury. Several are illustrated in the Introduction to Play the Game by Brian Love, 1978 and 1984
Sebina OPAC Istituto 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