The Museum has one of the finest collections of games in the world, comprising over 3000 board games, card games, indoor and outdoor games and puzzles. Highlights include a cabinet containing dissected map puzzles used to teach geography to King George III’s children and a German game board from 1535. 

Backgammon

Backgammon

According to Indian legend, backgammon was invented by a man named Qaflan.

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Chess

Chess

Chess originated in India around the 7th century, became popular in Persia soon afterwards and made its way to Europe in the 10th century.

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Chronological tables

Chronological tables

There were many different versions of this type of historical puzzle showing the kings and queens of England.

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The Counties of England

The Counties of England

The Counties of England game was the most popular and widely followed before the introduction of Happy Families.

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Dominoes

Dominoes

Dominoes were introduced into Europe through Italy in the mid-18th century. By the end of the 18th century dominoes had arrived in England.

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Etch-A-Sketch

Etch-A-Sketch

Etch-a-Sketch was originally invented in Paris by garage mechanic Arthur Granjean who called it 'L'Ecran Magique'.

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Game of Goose

Game of Goose

The Game of the Goose originated in Italy and is regarded as the father of the modern race game.

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Happy Families

Happy Families

Together with Snap, Donkey and Old Maid, Happy Families is a classic children's card game.

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Jenga

Jenga

Jenga was invented by British student Leslie Scott, who had spent her childhood in Africa playing with a set of locally made building blocks.

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Kings and Queens of England

Kings and Queens of England

Kings and Queens of England was published by the Mazawattee Tea Company in about 1910.

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The Mansion of Bliss

The Mansion of Bliss

The Mansion of Bliss is a typical example of the Museum's collection of 19th century race games

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Marbles

Marbles

People in ancient Egypt and pre-Christian Rome played marbles and the game has been played in England for at least four hundred years.

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Maze games

Maze games

The best known maze games are the simple ones where the aim is to guide a small ball through a maze enclosed in a box.

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Monopoly

Monopoly

The game of Monopoly was first published in the United States in 1936 by Parker Brothers. John Waddington was granted the licence to publish it in Britain in the same year.

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Pachisi and Ludo

Pachisi and Ludo

Pachisi is a game with equal measures of luck and skill which has been played in India for more than 1,200 years.

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Rubik's Cube

Rubik's Cube

The Rubik's Cube was invented by Erno Rubik, an interior design lecturer in Budapest.The first cubes were sold in Hungarian toyshops in 1977.

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Catalogue

Catalogue

The first agent known to have produced a catalogue of illustrated toys (in 1803) was George Bestelmeier of Nuremberg.

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Scrabble

Scrabble

Scrabble was invented in the USA by Alfred Butts, who had lost his job in the 1930’s depression.

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Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is probably based upon a very old Indian game called Moksha-Patamu, which was used for religious instruction.

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Snap

Snap

John Jaques, a well known London maker and publisher of games, introduced the game of Snap in 1866.

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Spillikins

Spillikins

Spillikins or Spellicans has been played all over the world for centuries and is thought to have originated in China.

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Subbuteo

Subbuteo

Subbuteo was invented in England by Peter Adolph in 1947. It was based on an earlier table football game from the 1920s called New Footy.

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Shop online...

Patrick Rylands Cool Cat

The V&A online shop stocks a distinctive and refreshingly different range for children, big and little, then and now, including toys, games, books and accessories.

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Tel: +44 (0)20 8983 5200 | V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA