Zone Classifieds Collectors' Corner Collectors Corner: For the Win

Zeppo and Harpo Marx playing backgammon in Palm Springs, California, 1933. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
Collectors' Corner

Collectors Corner: For the Win

BY Viia Beaumanis | June 29th, 2022

Card and board games are a classic summer pastime. Luckily, these days there are a variety of stylish takes on parlour games to choose from.

Monopoly

Produced especially for the ISSIMO lifestyle wing of Tuscany’s illustrious Pellicano Hotel Group, this edition takes players on a glorious Italian road trip. Roll the dice for a grand tour of town and country in a Maserati Levante, stopping at renowned dining rooms from Rome’s Trattoria da Enzo al 29 to the Amalfi coast’s Ristorante Lo Scoglio ($170).

 

Uno

Fans love the game’s cool Artiste Series, which won design awards for its modern art adorned cards. Costs vary based on whether the editions are still produced such as Keith Haring ($56) or discontinued collectables like Jean Michel Basquiat’s ($115). You can also track down sets by artists, Nina Chanel Abney ($146) and Shepard Fairey ($31). Another artful take, Uno Minimalista ($16), came to market when Brazilian graphic designer Warleson Oliviera uploaded his version of the classic card game and it went viral — so Mattel produced it.

 

Backgammon

is a global obsession that’s been played for centuries and the selection here is fittingly vast. Travel, tabletop, leather, leatherette or wood, you’ll find every style and price point at Gammon Village, a U.S. online shop that ships free to Canada. You can order handmade, personalized boards from Etsy ($162). Money no object? A slew of fashion brands offer signature sets at eye-watering prices, from Prada’s textured leather with metal pieces ($7,100) to Gucci, which does two styles; boldly modern or old world traditional (both $5,545). Specialty brand Geoffrey Parker specializes in luxury and custom sets (from $4,356) all the way up to super enriched — editions wrapped in stingray and with diamond-studded dice — for almost half a million ($475,277). On the more budget-friendly high end, Smythson’s calf leather edition goes for a (respectively) modest $2,840 and glossy sets from interiors guru Jonathan Adler include the mid-century motif Sorrento, a colourful backgammon/checkers duo Milano and striking Op-Art board ($390 at Indigo). Pottery Barn offers a similarly bright and graphic set for $200 less ($179). Finally, a wide array of one-of-a-kind vintage sets can be found at 1st Dibs from limited edition Hermès ($7,692), a Bakelite and cork combo ($2,315) to needlepoint ($1,577) or this hand-painted 1870’s wood board ($11,176). So handsome it could hang on the wall as folk art between games and, if you have an old family cottage, should have you digging through the attic or boathouse for anything even vaguely similar.

Scrabble

The game was invented in 1938 by a crossword buff architect. Today’s fans know the first thing when buying this game is skipping the original folded cardboard version for one that spins. In that ‘Scrabble Deluxe’ turntable category, plastic editions run 50 bucks and you trade up from there in materials and colour selections. From ‘rustic’ wood with under storage ($150) and solid maple with drawers ($250) to Heirloom Scrabble ($595) in rich walnut from Atkinsons in Vancouver. Those with an eye for design will appreciate the muted palettes of those offered by home brands Crate & Barrel ($229), CB2 ($229), or Pottery Barn ($453). You can also blow the bank on a custom Luxury Scrabble designed by the aforementioned Geoffrey Parker with silver gilding, calf leather in your choice of colours, leather-coated letters, and leather racks with “non-slip suedette bottoms” (from $1,795). And if you are going the cardboard route, this model that folds up into a volume for the bookshelf ($38) is pretty nifty.

 

Cards

Yes, they are a staple, Queens, Hearts, Poker or Bridge, and every fashion label offers an absurdly priced pack these days. Eyeing signature decks from Gucci (US$325), Versace ($425), Armani ($610) and YSL ($650) — Hermès ($130) looks like a bargain. You might be surprised to know that the ubiquitous Bicycle brand does some snazzy designs for under $10, from summery Mediterranean tile motifs to foil-pressed metallics. As does the bespoke, Theory 11, a producer of “luxury, designer” playing cards that’s custom collaborations include major movies (James Bond), stylish hotels (The Hollywood Roosevelt), charitable endeavours (Animal Kingdom for the World Wildlife Fund), and music legends (Yellow Submarine), all yours for $13, alongside an array of fancy signature collections like Hudson, High Victorian, and Tycoon for the same cost.

 

Wingspan

Released in 2019, it became a huge blockbuster over the pandemic. Perfect if you’re looking for something new, it’s centred on “beautiful, hand-painted cards and gentle, strategic gameplay.” All players oversee their own wildlife refuge with the goal of populating it with a thriving array of birds, each of which is worth a specific number of points, needs a certain type of food that requires tokens, and has a special advantage that adds value to your sanctuary. Dice are also involved. Wingspan has won more awards than it’s possible to list here. You can read about it in this Slate article and find it at Indigo ($62).

 

Do you have something in your own collection that you think might be worth a few bucks? Looking to buy or sell? Browse the Zone Classifieds and post your ad here.