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Sporting, Backgammon Game, Allegory of Romance, Antique Print, Mid 18th Century


Anthony Walker (1726-1765) (engraver)
On the Noble Game of Back-Gammon/
Sur le noble Jeu de Toute Tables, ou Tric-trac
British or Continental: Mid 18th Century
Hand-colored engraving

A rare engraving of an upper class young man and woman playing backgammon at a finely made ormolu mounted tric-trac table in a pastoral outdoor setting beneath tall, leafy trees. Two other young woman are standing behind the man looking on. The man — sitting in a Chippendale chair — glances over his shoulder while gesturing at the board, apparently looking to them to help resolve a dispute. The game of chance as a metaphor for romance is underscored by the four-line poems below the image, rendered in French and English below the titles. The backgammon game being played differs somewhat from the contemporary version we play today — in addition to the familiar board and checkers, the players are also using a deck of cards.

Product description continues below.


English verse, lower right margin:

In love and play, we equal Hazard run,
And by pursuing either, are undone:
The difference this — in Play oft we appeal,
In Love our Reason from our Selves Conceal.

French verse, lower left margin:

Ce Jeu doit asccercer l’etude et la Fortune,
L’Amour depend aussi du Hazard et des soins;
Ici quand on a dispute on cherche des Témoins,
Dans d’autres demelés un Tiers nous importune.

[This game must ascend the study and the fortune,
Love also depends on Hazard and care;
Here, when we fight, we look for Witnesses,
In other cases a third party disturbs us.]

Anthony Walker was a British draftsman and engraver working in London. He was listed in a trade directory from 1763 as a “history and architecture designer and engraver.” This engraving is apparently quite uncommon; we were unable to locate any other examples.

Condition:  Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Print window mounted in early paper sheet to extend margins.


Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in Book History. (13 March 2019).

Additional information


18th Century