Rare 17th Century Military Fortifications Board Game
Fine example of Peter Schenk's rare “Military Fortifications Game,” a set of playing cards describing the art of constructing defensive military fortifications.
The sheet comprises 52 playing card sized engraved panels, showing the French suits, each bearing an illustration of a military fortification element along with a brief explanatory text. The 53rd cards illustrate completed fortifications.
Along the top of the sheet additional panels list the game’s rules, and a panel along the right edge contain an index of important terms. A central panel bear the Schenck imprint.
The sheet was intended either to be cut up for use as a traditional deck of cards or left intact for use as a board game, with the rules at the top. Players rolled dice to move around the board, with the first to arrive at panel 53 being the winner.
Johann Ulrich Stapf the Elder of Augsburg created a similar game board. There is also a French edition designed by Gilles de la Boissiere and published by J. Mariette and bearing the title Jeu des Fortifications. The British Museum, which holds all three editions, cites Boissiere as the original designer.
The sheet is very rare on the market. This is the second example we have offered in over 20 years.
Peter Schenk the Elder (1660-1711) moved to Amsterdam in 1675 and began to learn the art of mezzotint. In 1694 he bought some of the copperplate stock of the mapmaker Johannes Janssonius, which allowed him to specialize in the engraving and printing of maps and prints. He split his time between his Amsterdam shop and Leipzig and also sold a considerable volume of materials to London.
Peter Schenk the Elder had three sons. Peter the Younger carried on his father’s business in Leipzig while the other two, Leonard and Jan, worked in Amsterdam. Leonard engraved several maps and also carried on his father’s relationship with engraving plates for the Amsterdam edition of the Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences.