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Wallis's New Game Of Human Life

Wallis's New Game Of Human Life : J. Wallis

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"A finely illustrated map game, issued as a hand-coloured engraving printed on sixteen separate pieces of paper and mounted on linen; this cloth-backed playing-sheet is folded into a slipcase; a separate decorative label was engraved and illustrated for the slipcase. A statement on "The UTILITY and MORAL TENDENCY of this GAME," along with some directions for game-play, appear in fancy script in the spandrels of the playing surface; the "Rules of the Game" take up the empty space at the centre of the racing-spiral. Each individual square on the course represents one year of a hypothetical life and contains a concise, miniature illustration, sometimes of a recognizable personage, representing various stations that such a life might include. There is "The Poet" at space 41, represented by Alexander Pope; "The Patriot" at space 55, embodied by William Pitt; and "The Glutton" at space 59, who resembles many popular satires on the indulgent Prince of Wales. Victory belonged to the player who arrived at the final panel, space 84, where "The Immortal Man" was pictured as Isaac Newton, who had lived to that same age. Though advertised in its subtitle as "the Most Agreeable and Rational Recreation Ever Invented for Youth of Both Sexes," the game is entirely male-centered, charting a masculine path through seven distinct twelve-year "ages." The appearance of The New Game of Human Life on 14 July 1790 was a significant milestone in the history of British leisure. Its London publishers, John Wallis and Elizabeth Newbery, appealingly packaged the table-game for a flourishing children's market and for middle-class consumers invested in stories of individual development and social mobility. The popularity of this race-game helped pave the way, in the decades to come, for innumerable, similarly conceived entrants in the competitive marketplace for domestic amusements—including an iconic successor, published in 1860 by a young American entrepreneur named Milton Bradley: "The Checkered Game of Life," later "The Game of Life" and, finally, simply "Life." Slight but negligible staining on printed surface, otherwise very fresh in original slipcase.
region: Curiosities
mapmaker: J. Wallis
place and date of publication: London 1790
medium and colour: copperplate, Original colour
size in mm: 480 by 690mm (19 by 27.25 inches).
ref: 41946
literature: Rovee, Christopher. "The New Game of Human Life, 1790." BRANCH: Britain, Represe

Price: £ 650

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