Killarney Chess and Backgammon Board

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AN IRISH ARBUTUS WOOD CHESS AND BACKGAMMON BOARD, Killarney, circa 1860, the hinged board for chess on the outside, backgammon on the inside, the exterior with a shamrock inlaid border in arbutus wood and satinwood, the interior with inlaid ferns, 48cm long, 26cm wide.

Literature: Bloomsbury Auctions, “Fine Chess Sets & Traditional Games”, Thursday, 3rd November, lot 117. (A similar board). Scach Partie Durch Zeiten und Welten , Edition Braus, 2005, figures 228 & 230.

“Killarneyware” is the distinctive style of furniture and works of art produced in Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe during the middle of the 19th century. The use of Arbutus wood (i.e. the wood of the Strawberry Tree) is typical of Killarney. This whitish close-grained wood which yellows with age had been highly valued for centuries in Ireland; the Seanchas Mor, Ireland’s old law text, mentions the timber in a section on tree-damage (c.f. John Teahan, “Irish Furniture and Woodcraft”, 1994, p. 39-42).