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


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 622 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 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 (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