Chasing Geese: on the trail of fourteen British-published copies of The Royal Pastime of Cupid, or Entertaining Game of the Snake

Duggan, Eddie (2019) Chasing Geese: on the trail of fourteen British-published copies of The Royal Pastime of Cupid, or Entertaining Game of the Snake. Board Game Studies Journal, 13 (1). pp. 111-158. ISSN 2183-3311

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The Royal Pastime of Cupid, or Entertaining Game of the Snake is a variant of The Game of the Goose, also known as The Royal Game of the Goose. The Game of the Goose was a popular game across Europe from the early seventeenth century until the nineteenth century. It is widely accepted as the basic model of the simple board game in which players throw dice to race their single piece around the board.

Fourteen distinct examples of The Royal Pastime of Cupid issued by British-based printers or publishers are known to the author. This paper, based on presentations to the annual colloquium of the International Board Game Studies Association at the University of Copenhagen in May 2017 and at the Benaki Museum Annex, Athens, in April 2018, offers a survey of these (all extant bar one, the location of which is now unknown), with suggestions for revised publication dates for several examples.

While the main focus is on British-published editions of the game, its probable French origin is established. The earliest known French edition, Le Jeu Royal de Cupidon, autrement appelléle passe temps d’Amour was published in Paris, ca. 1640, while a Spanish language edition, El Juego Real de Cupido, Otramente Llamado el Passa Tiempo de Amor, with a similar design and iconography, was published in Antwerp, c. 1620. The central design in both these editions shows three couples in an enclosed garden. Another edition, with a different design, which is copied in the earliest British-published editions, has the title Het Nieuw Slange Spel, anders genaemt Koninclycke Tytkorting van Cupido and was published in Amsterdam by Claes Jansz. Vischer, ca. 1625–1640.

Some discussion of the historical background sets out the relation between these earliest examples of The Royal Pastime of Cupid before the paper turns its attention to the British published editions, setting out a typology (Cupid honing his arrow on a wheel; Cupid alone with his bow beneath a floral garland; Cupid performing rough music at a peasant dance).

The paper concludes with a discussion of “rough music” and Visscher’s peasant dance motif, locating Visscher’s design, with Cupid performing rough music, and the later instances of the same design in Dutch and English prints, within a shared cultural heritage of visual and literary arts, and in shared cultural practises. The English designs however, without the cuckold and the hag evident in Dutch edition, lack the internal coherence of Visscher’s print.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Games, board games, printed games, Early seventeenth-century
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DC France
D History General and Old World > DH Netherlands (The Low Countries)
D History General and Old World > DJ Netherlands (Holland)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
J Political Science > JZ International relations
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
N Fine Arts > NE Print media
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Health & Science > Department of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Eddie Duggan
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2019 11:00
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2020 09:16

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