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Game tables filled idle hours

Our 19th century ancestors played games to pass the time. There was no television or radio, few organized sporting events, and even books were scarce outside of cities.

Many types of games were popular: card games, backgammon, checkers, whist and gambling games. A well-furnished city home had a game table. The table was usually in the style that was popular for the best living room furniture. The top of the table could swivel or slide to reveal a game board surface. Sometimes the top was covered in felt or needlepoint to make a quiet surface for chips or playing pieces. The top was often inlaid or painted with a favorite game board. Most game tables also had a drawer for storage of cards, chips or game pieces.

Country furnituremakers also had customers who wanted game tables that would blend in with their other furniture, so simple tables with straight, undecorated legs were made. The top was designed as a suitable game surface. The country tables are harder to find than the sophisticated city designs.

Perhaps the farmers worked harder and had less time for leisure.

The going rate

Silk piano shawl, embroidered flowers, pink, red, fuchsia, purple and teal, 12-inch fringe, about 1935, $275.

Tortoiseshell Georgian snuffbox, hinged, silver and gold filigree work, c. 1790-1800, 3 by 1{ by } inches, $300.

Stetson Hats store banner, "Styled for Young Men," green and gold velvet, 1920s, 15{ by 10 inches, $375.

Royal Crown Derby vase, red ground, raised gilding, flowers and butterflies, 1888, 6 inches, $645.

Civil War playing cards, red, white and blue, no numbers, each suit a different face theme, American Card Co., $800.

Royal Worcester beverage pitcher, gilt rim, lion head spout, lion paw handle, floral design, c. 1889, 9 inches, $950.

Tiffany & Co. sterling fish set, Broom Corn pattern, knife is 12 inches long and fork is 9{ inches, $1,200.

Victorian gilded corner etagere, cherry, gilded finish, beveled glass back, velvet pads, c. 1860, 64 by 32 inches, $2,200.

Lenci Golfer doll, series 1500, Italian cloth, felt swivel head, closed mouth, knickers, woolen stockings, 1930, 17 inches, $5,200.

Send questions to Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.