click here to zoom

Very Rare Board Game Based on America’s Cup Races in New York Harbor
[New York, 1887/ 1888]

New York City & America’s Cup History.  MCLOUGHLIN BROS.  [1887 (copyright)/ 1888 (published)] The Yacht Race Game.  Large folding game board, 31 ¼ x 16 inches.  With spinner in the form of a compass and 8 (of 8) playing pieces in the form of yachts on wooden supports. All housed in the original box (1 ½ x 8 ¼ x 16 3/8 inches), the lid bearing a large, applied, vibrant chromolithographic label. Instructions in facsimile. Minor wear, still excellent of this kind.                                                             

A remarkably well-preserved artifact of the Gilded Age: a yachting board game based on the America’s Cup races of the period.  (The Cup races were held in New York Harbor from 1870 to 1920, before moving to Newport in 1830).  Each of the game’s yacht-shaped playing pieces are labeled with the names of craft that participated in Cup races in the 1880s.  The playing pieces also attempt in general terms to replicate the rigging and silhouettes of the actual yachts.  Among them are the successful American defenders—Puritan (1885), Mayflower (1886), and Volunteer (1887), along with their challengers, respectively Genesta, Galatea and Thistle.  The other two others are Seafox and Cinderella that we haven’t been able to identify.   

This is the second known game of this type produced by the McLoughlin Bros. firm.  The other—of Newport—was published in 1891, following in the wake of the apparent success of this one.  Both are very rare on the market.

Notably, the board of the game shows two of New York’s iconic structures not long after their completion—the Statue of Liberty, officially dedicated in 1886, and the Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883.  Off the southern tip of Brooklyn, near Bay Ridge, can be seen Fort Hamilton that was built on Hendrick’s Reef.  It was demolished in 1960 to make way for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The largest landmass shown on the board is of Brooklyn, which is seen here as still semi developed; parts of Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey also appear. 

The New York City-based firm of McLoughlin Bros. was established in the mid 1850s and was a pioneer in the use of color printing processes in children’s books, games, puzzles, and toys.  In 1920 it was purchased by Milton Bradley; its Brooklyn factory then closed, though the brand remained alive until the 1970s. McLoughlin Bros.’ output is sufficiently significant to American printing history that the American Antiquarian Society has built a major collection of more than 1700 examples of its work. 

The game is played as follows:

“The setting for … The Yacht Race Game is New York Harbor where boats sail in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Governor's Island. The course itself is divided into sections or spaces numbered from 1 to 83 inclusive, the connection on the return is taken up at space 63. The outside course is only to be used in case of a tie.

“The course: The yachts start at square 1 and proceed along the course and around the lightship following spaces as they are listed reaching space 88 and then passing to space 63 to go back on the home stretch returning to space 11 which is located between buoy 15 and the Flagship boat which is the finish line.” ([1]

 Provenance and references

The game was previously in the renowned collection of Bud and Judy Newman of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Background on the McLoughlin Bros. from Laura Wasowicz, “McLoughlin Bros. Collection”[3] on the website of the American Antiquarian Society.






Price: $5,500.00

See all items in Antique Maps
See all items by