2è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Condition report by Ségolène Girard

Seg is speaking !

It has already been a year since the day I introduced this lottery game to my teacher. I have to say it was a pretty exciting day, since I was about to know if I was allowed to practice on such a demanding piece as a second year student. I guess I had light in my eyes when I showed it in class since she accepted.

It always starts with a full report of everything you know and can notice about the object ; its provenance, its history, then the detail of every single thing you can see, even insects hole have their importance, and give you precious pieces of information. Everything must be written with precise localization of the clues. Taking as many pictures as you can is equally important; it helps one follow the evolution of the piece, and prevents from transforming the object in a way that wouldn’t respect its original state.

Staving of the cardboard top

Out of shape cardboard top

The game was salvaged by a second-hand goods dealer from a collector’s attic, which had endured water damage. As a result it was covered with mold, the cardboard was caved in and had rings, pieces of metal were rusted, and

the decorating papers were peeling off, and lack of maintenance caused them to tear.

The wood presented insects holes, and the painting on metal and paper was dangerously flaky.

It was observed that between the purchase of the game just after it was saved from the flood, mould percentage had increased of about 70% in a month.

Wooden and carboards bases covered with mould

Wooden and cardboards bases covered with mould

IMG_4438

Oxidized gold edging papers

Also, time did its own work. The bright green of the felt faded away due to light exposure, the gold ribbons were oxidized, and it was worned out by the numerous hands that had touched it. Just as well, the horses were broken in several places, a head, a rider torso, and horse tail are missing.

Made in the 1900s by manufacturers M.J & Cie (M.J & Co), whose history stays unfortunately unknown to me after numerous unsuccessful researches ; this game is known in french as “Jeu de Course” literally “Racing Game”, but very popular in the United Kingdom, it was mostly famous under the name of “French horse riding game”.

Capture d’écran 2013-04-25 à 19.32.24

A French Horse Riding game model very close to the one I own, in good state

Although Horse Riding games from this period of time are always on the model of mine, few differences can be noticed from one game to another. The base is in wood while the top is in cardboard. The structure is covered in black papers with golden edges, sometimes the paper is marbled with dark colors.

A Horse Riding game with three hoops

A French Horse Riding game with three hoops

The horses are in lead while the hoops are in tinplate. There can be two, or sometimes three hoops, painted with red lead paint, the horses are painted with realistic colors and merry tints for the jockeys. I only saw games with a total of 8 horses which are numbered in white. The plateau is covered with a bright green felt which evokes the fresh lawn of the public enclosure.

Capture d’écran 2013-04-27 à 11.06.46

Modern reproduction of a French Horse Riding game with flag

A french flag announces the end of the race, though it is missing on my game. A plaque announcing the manufacturer shines on the front of the base, on which is the trigger to start the mechanism up.

My version of the game measures 5,3 inches in height, and is 10,5 inches wide and in length since it is a perfectly square base. Some games are bigger than others, depending on the number of hoops.

schéma dimensions

Here are a few illustrations I did for my dossier, let me know if you want any translation of the keys.

schéma vue de haut

Illustration showing the game from the top and the different pieces composing the plateau

schéma mécanique

Cross-section of the mechanism

6 responses

  1. Hello! I purchased an antique jeu de course game for my husband, fortunately in much better shape than yours above! However, we would love to have it restored but cannot find anyone who wants to touch it. Is this something you would be interested in quoting for us?

    We are in Houston, Texas, by the way.

    Like

    • Hello, this is a great purchase ! And I am so grateful of you to contact me.
      Unfortunately, I proceed in France… I would have loved to restore it for you though.
      Best Wishes,

      Ségolène

      Like

    • Hello Philip, thank you for this comment. I have been very grateful indeed not to report this purchase for later, everyday since I bought it. You might come across some others as I did ! Although they are very expensive when they are in good state, and not as charming due to very bad restoration sometimes. I did my best for this one and I hope my work will be approved by professionals and amateurs.

      Like

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