How To Value Chess, Playing Cards, & Board Games

From the earliest communities and civilizations of mankind, children and adults, boys and girls alike have enjoyed the pleasures and entertainment of games.

chess board

 It is no wonder that today many collectors have taken an interest in the history and rarity of such items, and buyers across the world are constantly on the lookout for a piece to add to their collection. Do you have a collection of old board games in the basement that you think might be worth something? Did you inherit an antique chess board that you would like to know more about? Did you find a vintage set of playing cards that you are wondering whether or not they might have any value? The following suggestions will be able to ensure that you find the most accurate value for your item as possible.

A brief history of games

Board games date back to Ancient Egyptian times, with the first known example being the game of Senet, which was excavated from burial sites in Egypt that existed over 5500 years ago. Backgammon was created in Mesopotamia around a similar period, and Hounds and Jackals first appeared in Egypt around the year 2000 BCE. Chess is said to have been invented in India during the 6th century CE under the name Chaturanga, later being modernized by Persian cultures. The Chinese invented the first ever playing cards at around 1000 CE as a result of new woodblock printing technology. No matter in which of these subcategories your interest lies, one thing is for certain; mankind has consistently put great value and emphasis on the methods by which we entertain ourselves, from ancient times and all the way up to the 21st century.

Assorted board game pieces

Age and rarity

As it goes with any work of art or collector’s item, the age and subsequent rarity of the game will be perhaps the most telling factor in determining its value. While an antique game that dates back hundreds of years ago or more will likely be worth thousands or more due to its sheer age, games that date back to the 1800’s or early 1900’s can also be worth a substantial amount. An 1830 board game of Fox and Geese is valued at over £13,100, and 1933 model of Monopoly Atlantic City sold at auction for £113,500. 

However while age and rarity do often correlate, this is not the case entirely without exception. For example, since there is a substantial supply of regular Monopoly games from the 1950’s, they will typically not be worth very much. However some games manufactured in the 1990’s or even later will be much rarer and more sought after; a 2010 The War of the Ring Collector's Edition game is valued at £1860 due to such high demand on the market.

"It is an option to buy parts in order to complete the set, but this can be a fairly pricey process, and there is always the risk that even the complete set’s market value will change. "

Condition

Unsurprisingly, the better condition your item is in, the more it will sell for. If the game is physically damaged in any way, or missing any pieces, its value will typically be significantly less than a similar model that is in mint condition. It is an option to buy parts in order to complete the set, but this can be a fairly pricey process, and there is always the risk that even the complete set’s market value will change.

Price guides

Price guides are always a good place to start when embarking on the endeavour to value your game, as they provide near comprehensive lists of items and their estimated worth on the market. One of the most trustworthy guides is Bruce Whitehill’s American Boxed Games and Their Makers, 1822-1992. It is an encyclopedic work that is highly regarded and referred to by any serious collector and includes a variety of information aside from price estimates, including how to store your games, and brief histories of game cultures. Another reputable price guide is Desi Scarpone’s Board Games: With Price Guide.

Appraisal

The most important step to take in determining the value of your item is to seek professional appraisal. While the above tips will be able to lead you in the right direction, only a professional appraiser will be able to make the most accurate estimate as possible. Thankfully here at Value My Stuff there are experts in the field who will be able to provide top quality professional valuation services so you can find out how much your item is worth in no time.

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