We have a mission: to follow the route of an old 1940s board game around Great Britain, sticking to the instructions as closely as we possibly can. Along the way we will look at the history of the places we visit, with a particular focus on how things have changes since the tour was created around 70 years ago.
In this post I am going to have a look at trying to pin down the date of the game. It would be nice if there was a date on the box or the board, or even the instructions, but no such luck. So we will just have to try to work that out.
The game was made by Chad Valley. Around 1830, British printer Anthony Bunn Johnson branched out into making simple games for children. His sons continued the tradition, setting up Johnson Brothers in Birmingham, which made a far greater range of games. The popularity of the games eventually prompted the brothers to start up a purpose-built factory on a larger site. A suitable location was found on the outskirts of Birmingham, and the building was named Chad Valley Works, due to its position in the valley of the river Chad.
The brothers began to include the factory name on their games, which achieved sufficient brand recognition amongst the public for the games to carry the branding of The Chad Valley Games. This was simplified to Chad Valley on some products from around 1920.
In 1938 Queen Elizabeth, the wife of George VI and mother of the current Queen, awarded the royal warrant to Chad Valley. The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret owned some Chad Valley toys, and the Queen allowed the company to make dolls based on the princesses.
This gives us our first clue to the date of the game, because it includes the royal warrant, so it cannot have been made before 1938. We can also work out a latest possible date, because in 1952 Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne, and Chad Valley changed the wording of the warrant to Toymakers to H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. However, the game has the earlier wording, Toymakers to Her Majesty the Queen. So the game had to be made some time between 1938 and 1952.
From this point we have to make a best guess. My mother was given her game as a child and based on her age and how old she thinks she was when given the game, her copy of the board almost certainly dates from the late 1940s. The game was likely in production for a few years in any case. The shortage of raw materials to manufacture good quality games such as this during the war years makes the late 40s even more likely. So we can safely take a guess at somewhere in the region of 1948 without fear of being more than a couple of years out either way.
If any readers have any information that will help date the game more accurately that would be great!
In the next post we will look at the game instructions and the route we have to follow!
To read the previous post, in which I outlined the background to the whole concept, please click on the Board Game Tour link on the menu bar above, just under the banner. There is also a Contents link, which will also contain links to each post in order, although that page relies on manual updating so might not always show the latest. If you want to be kept informed about new posts on Windows into History please hit the follow button on the right of the screen.