Victorian Pleasures: American Board and Table Games of the Nineteenth Century from the Liman Collection

By Marisa Kayyem and Paul Sternberger

Foreword by Barbara Novak

Collector's Statement by Ellen Liman

The Liman Board Game Collection is about play. It is also about meaning. The games in this fascinating collection are doubly profound aesthetically. They are beautiful to look at and also involve the beauty of conceptual strategies. Often exquisitely lithographed, the nineteenth century boxed board game, when emancipated from the intense downward stare of the board-player and hung on the wall, assumes a picture-like presence.

The games enter into every aspect of life, from coping to competing to transcending, offering an alternative existence in ways that are always entertaining and often didactically enlightening, not only for their original players, but for us, their cultural heirs.

The board games in this collection are implicated in contemporary attitudes to religion, morality, success, wealth, power, consumption of goods, travel, technology, history, geography, literature, science, education, sports, the spiritual and occult, and even matters of gender and race. The board games offer us at once our earlier social and cultural history, and an awareness of their continuing evolution in our own time.