5è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Diagnosis and Suggested Treatment by Ségolène Girard

Restoration of a 19th c. lottery game by M.J & Cie.

5è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Diagnosis and Suggested Treatment by S. Girard


Seg is speaking !

And sorry for the delay – the end of my third year is full with the preparation of the two next years : those of my master’s thesis, and long-term internships. Hopefully, I will get the chance to study in England to follow the path of Brittany, and hopefully at Brittany’s future workshop that promises to be filled with any restorer’s dreams, thank to the amazing job she is doing !

Let’s now get into the real process of restoration of my horse racing game.
After a full report of the deterioration it suffers of, and having took many pictures to complete it, I began thinking about options on what would have to be done on the game.

Capture d’écran 2014-04-03 à 23.05.05

It sort of was a personal project I did on my own, so of course, there are things that after a year I know I would have done otherwise with experience. But I am glad I got the chance to work on that piece so soon, since it has been a challenge the all way long. Also, considering that with only a year +1 I am already reconsidering my choices, and designing new options if I had to deal with a piece like this again, I feel it is very promising, and that this “stepping back” will grow with each year gained in experience.

As a two years student in restoration and conservation of paper works, I envisaged quite advanced actions :

– The game will be dismantled, drawings made to build it back.

– All of the pieces will be treated separately, and first dusted.

– I would then unstick all of the black papers, in order to repair the tears and gaps, and gain in flatness. Also, this would allow me to flatten the cardboard lid, before sticking the papers back. The golden papers, too oxydised would be removed and replaced by new ones. I felt that their now green colour was not rendering back the cheerful aspect of what that of game fortune used to give. If it has only been for the colour, I might have let them, considering them as part of the story the game came trough, but anyway, they were too incomplete, brittle, and could not offer their former protection to the edges.

The lid needs to be flattened, and the paper cleansed

The golden edges are not gold anymore, and they are leaving the sharp edges vulnerable to wear and tear

– The cardboard lower part, covered with mould, will be removed and replaced with a non-acid cardboard used in restoration.

Mould on the lower part of the game, after dismounting it

– The base, made out of wood, will be decontaminated because of the insects before putting the papers back.

Insect holes on the wooden base

Did you know you can recognize the insect that lived there only by the shape of the holes it leaves behind him ?

– The metal parts will be treated against rust.

Rust on the plateau of the base (inside view)

– Lead painting will be stabilized to prevent it of more flaking.

Flaking paint on the hoop

These actions resume what I dealt with the same way that I would now do it.
The only part that caused me trouble at that time, and that I would have done differently if I had had the time and funds is the treatment of the felt on the plateau. I decided to remove it because of its faded colour, and it was sometimes so thin you could see through it. Also, I wanted to access the metal parts to treat them against rust. It was a very hard choice to make ; choosing between which part to favor, and which to sacrifize. Anyway, I will probably have more time to study these types of problems in the future when I will be my own master on board !

Up next: 6è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – Conservation (Part I)

Previous: 4è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game – A bit of History (Part II: Lottery Games)

 

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

Restoration of a 19th c. lottery game by M.J & Cie.

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

Distorted 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

Captions translation (letters & numbers are pictured down below) :
– manette = lever
– plateau central = central plateau (fixed) (A)
– coupelle = cup (1)
– pilastres = lead pilaster
– rebord en bois, recouvert de papier doré = wooden structure, covered with golden papers
– plateau = large metallic plateau covered with green felt (billard-like), fixed in the wooden structure (C)
– anneau rouge = red ring (fixed) (B)
– emplacement du drapeau = flag spot
– espace chevaux rotatif 1 = space, about 6 mm
– espace chevaux rotatif 2 = space, about 6 mm

schéma mécanique

Cross-section of the mechanism

Captions :

The large metallic plateau (C) covered with green felt (billard-like), is fixed in the wooden structure. The wooden structure is covered with golden papers on the edges, and black paper on the main part. It encloses the box at the bottom and hides the mechanism by holding a cardboard square.

Pilasters are screwed three by three from the angles of the larger structure to its center, four on (C), four on (A) and four on (B). Pilasters hold the red ring (B) as such : a metallic (lace-like) piece pierced in three parts goes on three pilasters at a time, and is secured by a small spear that goes through tiny holes on top of the pilasters.

Two horses roundabouts (7) run between (A) and (B), and the other (9) between (B) and (C). They are actionned by a simple mechanism : when you pull out the outside lever, a spring is actionned and drags a gear down the main pole. It comes back when you let go of the lever and makes the mechanism follow. Flower-shaped gears and washers are placed in-between the base of (7) and (9).

The cup to place bets (1) is pierced and maintains with nut (2) and bolt (3) the main pole (6) that goes through the central fixed plateau (A). It is levelled by a decorative “cone” (5) and washer (4).

Up next: 3e partie. A French Horse Racing Game – A Bit of History (Part I)