We’re currently checking and organising our object stores as part of an ongoing project to improve the storage of our collection. The cellar storage area is full of all sorts of interesting and beautiful objects, so I was keen to select something to display in the house, as part of the monthly Object in Focus feature.
The bold colours of a board game caught my eye, and when I removed it from its tissue paper, I found it was actually a type of parlour game called Phyndit. I was intrigued, so I decided this would be our object from the stores!
The well-used box is decorated in primary colours, with the figures of elegant individuals dashing around a large house. The costumes of the figures seemed to be 1930s in style, and a little digging around on the internet told me that the game was patented in 1931 in America, by a now defunct London-based box making company.
Opening up the box, the contents revealed the type of game popular with wealthier classes during the first half of the 20th century: games that often involved hurtling around the house (or even outside) from one box to the next, posting answers to questions, or matching up ‘letters’ with the correct post box.
A scorecard inside Phyndit was dated 18th March 1938, with a list of players names: Grace, Doreen, Joy…There are several lists of names inside, suggesting the game was played over and over again, perhaps by different generations of the same family – the box, which has been repaired several times using sellotape certainly seems to suggest that it was a favourite game.
Although most objects at Standen are on the inventory database and are marked with an inventory number (see here for last week’s post on inventory marking) there are inevitably some items that aren’t, for one reason or another – Phyndit is one of these. The most likely explanation is that it was a donation to Standen at some point, and has probably spent most of its time here in storage – the stores project will enable us to know exactly what we have in storage, and make sure it is better labelled and stored.
I’m really pleased to be able to have an object from the stores on display, and the fact that Phyndit has probably never been displayed before is even better. The bold colours of the box and the figures dashing around on the front evoke the glamorous dinner parties of the 1930s. Because of the lack of database information about the game, it’s unlikely that it belonged to the Beale family of Standen (in addition, the names on the scorecard inside the box don’t match those of the Beales) but games such as this were so popular, it’s just possible the Beales played a similar game…