Restoration of a 19th c. lottery game by M.J & Cie.
1è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Introduction by Ségolène Girard
Seg is speaking !
Last summer, preparing for my second year specializing in paper conservation, I had to find a few engravings or flat objects to work on. But I enjoy brain-teasers; no need to say that I wanted something more challenging.
While meandering in a jumble sale, among My Little Poneys’ toys, corkscrews, and other useless tat people keep, I came across this lottery game. The only antiques dealer of the market had other great pieces, but it is this game that caught my attention.
Paper. Cardboard. Wood. Metal. Gears. Felt. Lead paint flaking off. Rust. Dust. And cherry on top: a fair amount of mold – quite a lot actually. Precisely the kind of object my teachers would never want me to touch before I’ve gained enough experience. Did I ever mentioned that my teachers always tear their hair out in my case ? Well once more, I would go against their will, hoping that once more I will manage.
People usually see me as one that has a lot of confidence, but here I’ll confide in you something – I usually get through tricky situations pretending that it’s a piece of cake, even though I know once again I’ve gotten myself into problems. And guess what? It works ! I’ve never had so much success than the times I practiced being positive – End of the self-centered parenthesis.
Back to the bric-à-brac dealer: Literally drooling over the game – to give you an idea – the sight of mold and dust and broken objects has the same affect on restorers as a new pair of shoes onto a fashionista. We need it. We want it. Of course I had forgotten my wallet, and I begged my father to lend me the money. He refused. Here I have to say that as the two stubborn people we are, we had a little brush. I explain ; my father is the kind that usually buys things on a whim. But he doesn’t like to loose a trade. The dealer here was selling the game 30€ ($40). A game of that sort in a good state is 300€ (c. $400). So when he asked for 25, and the trader refused, I said yes for 30 right away, and he said no. For a difference of 5 ! Ha, fathers. I guess he also knew it would be trouble at school. Well I won’t epilogue on this. I don’t know how that happened. But I finally got it.
Dad if you read this, I hope you’re not too vexed, and you realized it was a good bargain in the end. Actually, thank you, it put more pressure on me to succeed in this first demanding restoration. *No pressure. Easiest restoration ever* Anyway life is not without taking risks, and my concept of learning includes mistakes.
This was more of a personal introduction. Next time, I will give you a brief historical of this piece, sketches, and dissection of the different materials, before we get started with the scientific part !